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By Jean Delville 

"The mission of Art in the world is so mighty 
that it should be cherished with care and 
encouraged to the utmost ol our power, 
striving with all our being to keep it pure; 
it would be a deed as great before God as 
useful to man to lead Art back to the inex- 
haustible fount from which it ought never to 
have wandered." p.-f.g. lacuria. 

"the harmonies of existence." 

Translated by 

with Introductory Notes by 
Clifford Bax and Edward Schure. 

London : Francis Griffiths 
34, Maiden Lane, Strand 





The Members of the 


this Translation is 


The Prayer of a Magician 

O God of Light in whom all worlds are one, 
An atom from that fierce and fiery place 
Wherein men stray, behold before Thy Pace 

My soul, an eagle mounting to the sun. 

The blood-stained idols of an erring race, 
The clouds of evil that men's hearts have done, 
Roll on beneath me to that hour when none 

That brought to birth no beauty shall win grace. 

O God, Who gazing on the perfect whole 
Smiles at our loveliness of form or soul 
As gradually the prisorjed self escapes, 

Beyond all time, division, change, or death, 

Thou art the immortal essence of all shapes 
And earth of Thine eternity— a breath ! 

(Translated by CLIFFORD BAX) 




SCHURE . . . . . . 





























List of Illustrations 

(i) Jean Delville (Portrait) . . Frontispiece 


(2) L'Ecole de Platon (J. Delville) .. I 

(3) L'Ange (Fernand Khnopff) . . 16 

(4) L'Homme Dieu (J. Delville) .. 49 

(5) Les Soeurs d'Illusion . . . . 64 

(6) Promethee (J. Delville) . . • • 97 

(7) The Virgin of S. Maur (Beuron 

School) . . . . . . 112 

(8) U Amour des Ames (J. Delville) . . 145 


THE AUTHOR of the following treatise 
will be known by name to very few 
of his English readers, yet the book 
reveals a personality so distinguished that 
those hitherto unacquainted with M. Delville's 
work may care to know something of the 
writer. The few to whom he is already known 
will be found among those who, possessing an 
interest in the arts, have lived a considerable 
time in Brussels or in Glasgow. In the former, 
because M. Delville is an artist of renown in 
his own country : in the latter, because about 
eight years ago he was appointed to the chief- 
professorship in the Glasgow School of Art. 
He worked there for half-a-dozen years and 
with such personal success that when he returned 
to Brussels and instituted the " Atelier Delville" 
a large number of his former pupils went oversea 
to follow him. 

The world of art is hardly less variously 
peopled than the wider world of politics and 
affairs. No painter, no writer, can ever please 
all artists, and M. Delville, especially, by his 
unflinching adherence to idealism, has encoun- 
tered for many years much ridicule or abuse 
from the supporters of other schools. It is 
unfortunate that so small a number of men 
is capable of avoiding an extreme. No sooner 
is a certain style grown over-ripe than the 
next generation, dismissing the entire school 

xiv Jean Delville 

as misguided, errs yet more markedly in the 
opposite direction. Here in England at the 
moment we read articles by men who declare 
that Burne-Jones knew nothing of his art or 
that there is nothing of sublimity in the work 
of Tennyson. In place of those formerly accepted 
and over-praised, they exalt some trifling fellow 
who, though deficient in a thousand ways, has 
yet no trace of the particular weakness which 
overcame the giant they would depose. 

For reaction, useful as a corrective influence, 
is nearly always excessive, and its devotees 
quite readily mistake their own backwater for 
the full main-stream of art. Incapable of 
improving upon the achievements of a bygone 
school, they choose out themes and methods 
which were most likely rejected as unworthy 
by the painters they despise. The excessive 
praise of Whistler is now subsiding, but in its 
place has arisen the cult of those who consider 
clear colour to be the brand-mark of the 
commonplace, fair form the delight of an inferior 
taste. Nor do these bubble-movements lack 
believers among those who are fearful lest they 
should be stigmatised as unprogressive, for 
most men — critics or craftsmen — are carried 
along by the taste of their time, and few are 
those who, standing aside from the immediate, 
work on in the great traditions. 

Of such is M. Delville. Faults he has, but 
not the faults of our time. There is no affectation 

Jean Delville xv 

in his work : no superficial, catchpenny display 
of skill. With him, the picture has again 
become of more importance than the painter. 
For he is a poet, a thinker, a man who cares 
greatly for the welfare of the world. 

The eminent French poet who penned the 
introductory note to this book has shown how 
unavoidably a painter communicates his 
" Weltanschauung " to his work, and every 
phase of M. Delville's mind is thus reflected. 
In early youth he was a materialist, and the 
dusty paintings of that period which hang 
from the walls of his studio would merit praise 
from some of those who call themselves, 
euphemistically, " rationalists." Indeed, if 
anyone should search the great studio he might 
disinter examples of many contemporary 
methods. For even in the earliest of his student- 
days M. Delville possessed a facility so astonish- 
ing that before he had been working at the 
School of Art in Brussels for more than a week, 
the professor set up his canvas as an object- 
lesson to the assembled students. In after- 
years the paintings he produced readily reflected 
the rapid changes of his mind. 

For he did not rest easy in materialism, and, 
having experimented with spiritism, in spite 
of the usual chicanery he discovered what he 
considered overwhelming evidence of dis- 
incarnate existence. The pictures which 
accompany this phase are more terrible than 

xvi Jean Delville 

beautiful — vast, lurid, and awful. During 
a few years he followed the faint stars of 
spiritism until they had brought him to 
the limitless horizon of theosophy, and it 
is to the inspiration of this world-old wisdom 
that his latter and important work is due. 
His adherence to that scheme of thought has 
cost him much, for in Belgium the Ecclesiastical 
Party, which is dominant, regards theosophy 
as a formidable menace, and has opposed him 
repeatedly. But M. Delville was born a fighter, 
and never flinches in his loyalty to a philosophy 
which is strangely abused and misunderstood. 
A keen student of contemporary science, an 
eloquent and fiery speaker, one who writes 
prose with vigour and verse with a rare beauty, 
he is well able to defend his convictions with a 
widely-cultured mind and with a range of ability 
that compels respect. 

Unfortunately, he shares with Rossetti a 
dislike of exhibiting his work, but the annual 
exhibitions at Brussels have occasional examples. 
A stately picture, called " L'Ecole de Platon ' 
was exhibited some years ago at Milan, where 
it won the Gold Prize. Most of M. Delville's 
work is on a very large scale — indeed, his 
preliminary sketches are usually the size of 
most large pictures. A vast composition, 
which is named " L'Homme-Dieu," and repre- 
sents a multitude of men and women surging 
up, with gestures half exultant, half despairing, 

Jean Delville xvii 

to the enaureoled Christ, occupies an entire 
wall in his " atelier." Yet he has said that he 
would like to re-paint it as large again if he 
could put it in a church. 

At present in his private studio, at Forest, 
a country suburb of Brussels, he is preparing 
a series of frescoes which are to decorate the 
walls of the Palais de Justice. Perhaps the 
designs for this national work are the most 
powerful and most complete examples of 
idealistic art which he has yet achieved, and 
it is safe to predict that the Belgians of the 
future will not regret the choice of the 

M. Delville was born in 1867 ; he never 
studied his art except in the school at Brussels, 
although when his student-days were over he 
spent some two years in Rome — a city which 
he felt to be strangely familiar, thus offering a 
theme for speculation to the believer in palin- 
genesis. His manner of life is simple, as befits 
a mystic ; the vegetarian may number him 
in the list of the enlightened ; and his pleasures 
are those of the intellect. Often might a friend, 
having walked through the little garden, come 
into the house to find him absorbed in a brilliant 
rendering of some Wagnerian masterpiece, or 
studying with the firmest concentration some 
recent work on evolution or biology. In these 
days, when life is losing continually more and 
more of its ancient dignity, when occultism, 


xviii Jean Delville 

above all else, has fallen into the hands of 
commercial, unreligious, and vulgar persons, 
it is an inspiration to receive the friendship of 
a man like M. Delville, whose life is worthy of 
his great religion, who retains not a little of 
the grandeur which caused the occultists of old 
time to be so greatly honoured, who realizes 
the wonder of existence, the sublimity of the 
universe, and the potential godhead of man. 
Almost alone he is combatting, year after year, 
the inane but popular painting of our time, 
setting forth in daily life and in some of the best 
of the Belgian reviews that conception of art 
which he formulates in the present work. It 
is with deep interest that we who are his allies 
will watch the reception given to it in England. 
It is a book which proclaims, not a new and 
unrelated art, but the necessity of applying 
some new inspiration to the incomparable 
traditions of the past : a book which opposes 
all that is commonly praised in the art of our 
period ; a book which we who are with him 
can only regard as the work of a great man who 
writes in a trivial and materialistic age. 

C. B. 

Introductory Note to 
44 The New Mission of Art " 

By Edouard Schure 

THIS is the book of a true young man ; 
a book of courage and nobility, a sign 
of light in times of darkness. The work 
of a thinker, artist, and one inspired, a testimony 
to his knowledge, enthusiasm, and faith, it is 
designed to be a work of initiation and 

It is not the first time that the attempt 
has been made nowadays to deduce the laws 
of Beauty from esoteric teaching, that is, 
from the eternal philosophy in the depths of 
the soul, in order to cast the horoscope of con- 
temporary art. But it is the first time that a 
painter has done so, one, moreover, unattached 
to any party, church, or school, with the delight- 
ful ingenuousness of a pure soul, a manly spirit, 
and an upright conscience. 

" The Mission of Art," by Jean Delville, is 
an exposition of perfect Idealism according to 
universal Theosophy. This requires explanation. 

The nineteenth century began with that 
great awakening in literature and art which it 
has been agreed to term Romanticism. An 
instinctive reaction against academic conven- 
tions, it was at once a return to nature, and 
a sincere and splendid advance towards the 
heights of the Ideal. It produced works of genius, 

xx Introductory 

but it was not given to it to influence our civili- 
sation by a work of fruitful education or definite 
construction, because it was not built on firm 
foundations. Romanticism was Idealism without 
Idea. By that I do not mean to say that the 
poets and creative artists of the first half of the 
century, among whom are to be numbered 
Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Vigny, Ingres, 
Delacroix, and Theodore Rousseau, were not 
inspired in their great works by lofty ideas. 
I merely affirm that they were not governed 
and guided, in their general conception of Art, 
by a clear and broad synthesis. Let me be 
understood. Neither the poet or artist ought 
to be professed philosophers, but they need, in 
order to exercise their functions to their fullest 
extent, to live in an atmosphere of organic 
philosophy and a living religion — unless they 
are strong enough to create a philosophy and 
religion for themselves, moulding to it through 
strife and sorrow the children of their thought 
—as is the case with the few Titans, Lucifers, 
and Prometheuses of Art. Romanticism had 
neither this atmosphere nor these giant creators- 
Hence its uncertainty and weakness. Without 
a compass, without a rallying point, it was 
soon disintegrated and driven out of its course. 
In proportion as the influence of the Kantian 
and Hegelian philosophy, by which indirectly 
it was governed, began to wane, in proportion 
as its place was taken by the Positivism of 

Introductory xxi 

Auguste Comte and all his disciples, so Roman- 
ticism wavered and fell back in confusion before 
the triumph of Naturalism and its mongrel 

Whether the artist wish it or no, whether 
he denies it or not, all art, whatever it may 
be, corresponds to a philosophy. Instinctively 
or consciously his method is governed by a 
certain way of looking at nature and considering 
man. Naturalism is the assertion of appearances, 
the faith in instinct, in the fecundity of physical 
life pure and simple, as Zola declares with 
such honest simplicity. The naturalism in 
favour at present exactly reflects the material- 
istic teaching of philosophy. Now, not only 
has this naturalism deplorably narrowed the 
horizon of thought, but, as Jean Delville justly 
observes, " it atrophies the ideal creative powers 
in the artist's soul by snapping the links that 
bind it to the spiritual world."—" Nature," 
says the author of The Mission of Art again, 
" is a mingling of enchantment and terror, of 
ecstasy and awe. The monstrous intermingles 
with the divine. It is a wonderful chaos of 
secret splendours." The poet, as far as he is 
at all worthy of the name, will ever return to 
thought, which implies choice, to sentiment, 
which presupposes a minimum of moral and 
spiritual life. But what will the artist, sculptor, 
or painter do, without any other guide than 
animal instinct or love of appearances ? We 

xxii Introductory 

have seen the results ; we see them still. 
" They have blown up Parnassus," says the 
young artist initiate who has written this 
book, " and from the fragments of the sacred 
hill they have begun to hew unsightly abor- 

If naturalism in art corresponds to material- 
istic pantheism in philosophy, impressionism, 
its bastard offspring, corresponds to absolute 
scepticism and tosses between extremes like 
a wreck drifting upon the sea. Impressionism 
springs from a dim perception of the insufficiency 
of naturalism as a source of inspiration. It 
throws itself into impression to escape from 
the tyranny of appearances. But, lacking 
intellectual principles, it escapes it only to fall 
under the tyranny of sensation and extravagant 
fancy. Sometimes it delights in a brutal realism 
turning the painter into a photographer, and 
causing the stage to become nothing more than 
a cinematograph of life. Sometimes it gets 
lost in a vague mysticism without form and 
without idea. Nay more, for hungering after 
originality, wishing to shock the eye and twist 
the nerves, it plunges finally into a perverse 
pursuit of the Ugly. 

Shakespeare, that learned occultist, who 
understood nature and the human soul so well, 
beside whom our poor psychologists are but 
ignorant apprentices, Shakespeare gives to the 
diabolic powers that hover about mankind to 

Introductory xxiii 

urge it on to evil a terrible weapon. That 
weapon is the aesthetic creed of the Ugly. 

" Fair is foul, and foul is fair, 

Hover through the fog and filthy air." * 

So sing the witches in Macbeth dancing upon 
the heath, where soon they will weave round 
the hero a dark spell, which will cause the red 
spectre of murder to rise in his soul. 

" Fair is Foul ! " This arcanum of witchcraft, 
which is the black magic of evil, has been used 
as a proverb by the whole school of amorphism 
and debased and decadent sestheticism, which 
makes a wrong and distorted application of it 
without understanding its baneful effects. 
Naturalism, realism, impressionism — variations, 
shades, perversions of the same evil — absence 
of principles and ideal in the artist. By expelling 
the ideal from art, the pretended naturalism 
has misunderstood and profaned nature. 
Because, considered on its magnificent entirety, 
nature is an evolution towards Beauty as 
humanity is an ascent towards the Ideal. 
Only one ought to divine the inner meaning of 
nature and humanity, and not servilely copy 
their appearance and deformity. Yes, Art 
imitates Nature, but does so in order to complete 
it. And that is how it happens that Nature, 
insulted and profaned by short-sighted careless 
advocates of naturalism, has avenged herself 
by causing them to mistake Ugliness for Beauty. 

* Macbeth I. i. 

xxiv Introductory 

Thanks to this confusion, the better of them 
have become dangerous madmen, and the others 
mischievous fools. And as a result contemporary 
art has lost its strength, and become over- 
whelmed by the disorder and anarchy which 
we see. 

But in the midst of this witches' Sabbath 
of grotesque and droll apparitions, there arose, 
some twenty years ago, an idealist reaction of 
which few people, even to-day, suspect the 
influence and import. For, to estimate the force 
of this undercurrent, it must be known whence 
it comes. Jean Delville explains it very rightly, 
and there is not the least exaggeration in the 
following words as decided as they are carefully 
weighed : " The idealist truth is about to 
conquer the modern world with a methodical 
positive certainty, which nothing can resist, 
since it is the luminous sign of the true evolution 
of the spirit, the mediating power which must 
re-establish the equilibrium between the past, 
present, and future." 

How has that movement been carried on in 
the domain of the plastic arts ? To the honour 
of art and artists it must be said that it was 
through the painters that this glorious upward 
tendency was first set on foot, and that simul- 
taneously in England and France. Everyone is 
now acquainted, through the remarkable book 
of M. Robert de la Sizeranne, with the renais- 
sance of Contemporary English Painting, of 

Introductory xxv 

which the chief representatives are Rossetti, 
Watts, Holman Hunt, Herkomer, Millais, and 
Burne-Jones. At the same time two French 
painters of genius were assembling a young 
and fearless group around the banner of idealist 
art. I speak of Puvis de Chavannes and Gustave 
Moreau. The former effected it by his broad 
simplicity, persuasive steadfastness, and winning 
gentleness ; the latter with more pride and 
peculiarity, but with a rare concentration and 
intensity, appreciated only in one of the elect. 
In spite of all national and individual differences, 
there may be observed among all these French 
and English painters a common effort. A 
return to the severity of line, a search for 
distinctive characteristics, of beauty through 
harmonious composition, a profound aspira- 
tion towards poetry, and a worship of the ideal. 

Criticism, which is not usually the halting 
follower of genius, decided, after a hesitation 
due to its dignity, to tread in the path of the 
artists. Nevertheless art criticism, and I speak 
of the better kind, has brought to light the 
failings of philosophers and thinkers who ought 
to shed light on the idealist renaissance, and 
who contribute rather to obscure it. 

We will take only two aesthetic writers, two 
of the most celebrated and most talked of : 
Ruskin and Tolstoi. In spite of their many 
numerous merits, neither of them perceives the 

xxvi Introductory 

With his refined sense of art and its educa- 
tional mission, it is not a utilitarian and vacillat- 
ing eclectic like Ruskin who can point out to 
us the future path of art. In spite of his religion 
of beauty he cannot do it, because he does not 
comprehend its sublime origin, its generation 
through the Ideal and the Mother-Idea. His 
torch burns neither with sufficient clearness 
nor at a proper altitude. 

Nor, indeed, is it the great and venerable 
recluse of Iasnaia Poliana who can guide us 
in this direction. Tolstoi, in fact, admits no 
other principle of art but the moral. He does 
not understand the essential value of Beauty, 
the harmony of Idea and Form, that is to say, 
the supreme principle of Art and its true power 
of expansion. Was it in truth worth the trouble, 
after writing great novels and powerful works 
concerned with morality to stoop to deny 
Sophocles, Beethoven, and Wagner, and to 
reduce art to a sermon for the use of Russian 
peasants ? And to think that there are Western 
circles where these Boeotian fancies are received 
like Holy Scripture ! It is but another striking 
proof of our intellectual abasement, of the 
futility of our art, and the poverty of our 
criticism. Inspiration cannot be commanded, 
and genius is the most beautiful gift of God. 
It comes when it wills, and when it must. But 
it can be prevented from coming by destroying 
the hearths and temples of humanity, as it 

Introductory xxvii 

may be attracted by preparing for it a cradle 
and a refuge. 

How, then, is the right way to be discovered ? 
Which is the safe path ? Where lead those 
fertile uplands whose pinnacles are bathed in 
dazzling light ? Salvation will follow from two 
things — the first of which is concerned with 
individuals, and the latter with our institutions 
of public education — in the knowledge of how 
to discipline the Soul and of a return to Prin- 
ciples. By these words I am far from summing 
up the noble exposition of Jean Delville, but 
I shall at least have imprinted a motto on the 
banner he unfolds and indicated the goal at 
which he aims. 

" The artist needs," says this young painter, 
convinced of the power of the Soul and the 
Idea, " more learning and sensibility — he must 
receive initiation. He owes this to himself 
in order to develop his intellectual and spiritual 
being." And later : " The people are only 
truly great before God and before Art by reason 
of the spirituality which emanates from their 
works. . . . My hope is to see the point 
of view of artists raised, and of seeing them 
definitely engaged themselves in the evolution 
of the human ideal, so that their individual 
psychology, becoming more luminous, shall 
glow more brightly in their works." 

So much for discipline ; let us come to 
principles. I said above that Romanticism had 

xxviii Introductory 

been Idealism without Idea, that is, without 
eternal and universal Principles. The new Art 
will be Idealism with Idea. That is to say, it 
will proceed from the perfect science which is 
itself derived from complete knowledge of 
Oneself, in a word from that Theosophy which 
is such a transcendent Biology. 

In opposition to the conventional and fossil- 
ising eclecticism of academies, to an animal- 
like naturalism, to an ephemeral impressionism, 
Jean Delville places Idealist Art entire and 
absolute, which conforms to the two great 
scientific laws of selection and synthesis. He 
condenses it into three principles : — 

(i.) Spiritual Beauty (La Beaute spirituelle) , 

which requires lofty conception, Idea ; 

(ii.) Plastic Beauty (La Beaute plastique), 

by which is meant the perfection of 

forms with a character at once typical 

and individual ; 

(iii.) Technical Beauty (La Beaute technique), 

which is the realizing of the two 

former in a perceptible form. 

It is not enough to be acquainted with each 

of these principles in its extent and depth, and 

wishing to apply all three to a work of art. Its 

hierarchy and genesis must likewise be known. 

It must be grasped that the first among them 

—spiritual beauty— is the essential, central, 

and generating principle in particular. This 

it is that engenders the second, as the second 

Introductory xxix 

engenders the third. It is from Idea, by way of 
Sentiment and Sensation, that a work of art 
arises in the artist's spirit. On the receptive 
hearer, the intelligent spectator, the contrary 
effect is produced. He will rise from Sensation 
to Sentiment, and from that to the Idea, and 
he will only attain the true aesthetic emotion 
at their final point, when he embraces Sentiment 
and Sensation in the primordial and final unity 
of the Idea. So that it is ever the Idea which 
remains the generating point of Beauty. It 
engenders the Form which moulds Matter, as 
the Spirit creates the Soul, and the Soul fashions 
the Body. It is because Materialism holds a 
contrary view that it is radically false, philoso- 
phically, artistically, and socially unsound. 
What makes every real work of art of interest 
is that it reproduces the mystery of Creation 
which operates in the Microcosm as in the 
Macrocosm, in Man as in the Universe. It shows 
us likewise the Involution of spirit within matter, 
and the Evolution of matter in the direction 
of spirit. But the artist has no need of these 
formulae. It is enough for him to recognize 
by intuition and experience the hierarchy of 
the generating Principles of Beauty. For so 
the great ones worked and ever will work. 

To demonstrate the fecundity of these vital 
principles would necessitate a long development 
and all the detail of technical applications to 
architecture and music, those symbolic and 

xxx Introductory 

generalizing arts, to sculpture, painting, and 
poetry, those living and human arts, and finally 
to their synthesis — the drama. In fact to create 
a transcendent system of aesthetics it would be 
necessary to return again to Number, at once 
the source of Form and Harmony. 

Jean Delville wished only to give in this 
book the higher principles of the plastic arts, 
those which the painter and sculptor need to 
illuminate their consciousness and put life 
into their work. He has done so as an artist 
and philosopher. Some idealists, perhaps, will 
not hold the same view with regard to certain 
special points. For my part, while sharing his 
philosophy, I should be less severe than he on 
landscape-painting, and I should hesitate to 
banish from art national colour, while wishing 
that it should be through inspiration as universal 
as possible. But all without exception will 
admire with me the Mother-Ideas which flash 
with such brilliance throughout these pages, 
and the mighty regenerating breath that 
emanates from them. There is one admirable 
passage upon " the nude, which brings us face 
to face with the enigma of life, which incor- 
porates universal ideas, and reveals to us the 
meaning of nature." Michael Angelo, Leonardo 
de Vinci, and Raphael, would shake him by 
both hands. There are others in the vein of 
Juvenal upon " the adultery of art with 
materialism," upon " aesthetes without aesthetics, 

Introductory xxxi 

dandified triflers, wild irresponsibles, incom- 
petent impostors, and sneering eclectics." This 
book seems written in a single burst, under an 
impulse so prolonged and impervious that the 
author never even thought of dividing it into 
chapters.* I do not know what is most striking 
in this work, at once so youthful and so mature, 
so nervous and so powerful — whether the artist's 
soul, so enthralled by eternal Beauty which 
can be felt palpitating in every line, or the 
spirit of the initiated philosopher, which rises 
so easily and naturally towards divine principles, 
or the proud courage of the young warrior of 
the ideal, who flings himself into the midst 
of the combat, fearless of blows and wounds, 
with the flaming sword of speech and the shield 
of faith. If we were timorous enough to recom- 
mend prudence to him, he would reply proudly : 
" The artist who is not conscious of a divine 
power making his human power fruitful of 
Beauty, and who, in the depths of his being, 
does not feel the God of Love and Harmony 
vibrate with which worlds and races of men 
vibrate, the same is unworthy of civilisation." 
Artists and poets, youthful believers in Life 
and the Ideal, read this book. You will discover 
therein new paths leading to the secret places 
of Beauty and torches to light your way. It 
announces the dawn of an era " when Art will 
be consecrated by Metaphysics and Initiation." 

* This has been done in the present edition. 

xxxii Introductory 

On the one hand this breviary of Beauty 
is a plain synthesis of the whole evolutionary 
process in aesthetics during the nineteenth 
century. It represents its closing period. On 
the other it brings before our eyes something 
that seems like a white road, between a colon- 
nade of marble, leading from a huge pylon and 
flanked by propylaea towards the Temple of 
perfect Art — which, let us hope, will be that 
of the twentieth century. 



THIS book does not claim to be a literary 
essay or a treatise of philosophical analysis. 
It does not aim, as so many others 
have done, at giving a cut-and-dried recipe for 
a masterpiece by means of the theory of 
uniformity, but it desires to urge the unfettered 
personality of the artist towards a higher 
Comprehension of Art and a purer Conception 
of Beauty. 

In writing it I believe that I have fulfilled 
my plain and honest duty as an artist. 

I think that in an age, and in a country, 
in which materialism in art is still supreme this 
book comes in good time, and will awaken the 
conscience dulled by various pursuits to the 
true power of Art, that is to say, its mission to 

Materialism is the artist's foe, because it 
wastes or destroys in him the ideal and creative 
powers of his being. The genius of art is not 
to be reconciled to the ignoble attitude of 

The laws of life are not merely physical laws , 
they do not dwell in the instinct, but in the spirit, 
whence they cause the being to be evolved. 

The experimental proofs of the existence and 
survival of the soul have been scientifically 

Modern Esthetics ought not to neglect the 
consequences of those proofs. It is indispensable 


xxxiv Preface 

that the artist should know that ideas, figures, 
sentiments, emotions, sensations, are by no 
means simple movements of organic matter 
or mechanical vibrations. He must understand 
the ideal part that his soul and his spirit play 
in the divine mystery of Nature. 

There has been much philosophising about 
art. For the most part, superficial writers on 
aesthetics have only dealt vaguely with this 
profound and difficult subject, which requires 
something beyond taste and learning — 
initiation ! 

And with respect to this I wish it to be 
observed that the use in this book of the terms 
spirit, soul, idea, instinct, astral, mental, 
spiritual, divine, etc., is by no means the 
result of an artificial or chance terminology. 
These words signify conditions and faculties 
of being, of perceptible realities, and I am 
well acquainted with the part which these 
unseen powers and conditions play in the 
mysterious moulding of the aesthetic concept. 
For more than ten years I have devoted precious 
hours to the illuminating study of occult 
psychology, not merely in a speculative, but 
in an experimental, direction. I am conscious 
of the value and importance of these words. 

This book, then, is not the result of fancy. 
It is dedicated chiefly to the artists of Belgium, 
above all to those who are young, since they 
are nearer the future. And I could say to 

Preface xxxv 

them that if there is more art in Nature than 
in a School, there is also more art in the Ideal 
than in Nature. 

The soul of a nation, capable at times of 
strength and grandeur, is nevertheless slow 
in following the great evolutionary tendencies 
of the human spirit. The national materialism 
still weighs too heavily upon it. But a people 
is only truly great before God and before Art 
in consideration of the spirituality which is 
exhibited in its works. 

The races which produce great artists are those 
where not only physical beauty is met with, 
but where beauty is found in the heart and 
in the soul. 

Unless I am much deceived, national soul 
is, I believe, superior to the national character 
(temperament). At bottom of every race there 
is something very pure, very bright, and very 
strong. But it still slumbers, as thought 
stupefied by the fog of materialism which 
surrounds it. 

The age possesses good painters, good 
sculptors. It has no great artists. 


Because its artistic powers, that is to say, 
its vigorous capacity for painting and sculpture, 
have not been put at the service of the Ideal, 
Spirit, and Beauty. 

And, in saying that, observe that I am not 
attempting to extol a literary or philosophical 

xxxvi Preface 

art, which would be foolish and wrong. Long 
ago artists like Chenavard and Wiertz showed 
the hollowness of their extravagant art, as well 
as the decayed schools in which Form was no 
longer a matter of importance. 

I dream of seeing the standpoint of artists 
raised, and of seeing them return once for all to 
the evolution of the human ideal, so that their 
individual knowledge of the soul, becoming more 
luminous, may glow with purer lustre in their 
works. Has any one seriously reflected on the 
fresh and luxuriant blossoming of art, which 
may originate, on the threshold of the twentieth 
century, from the idealist mode of thought ? 

That is the aim of my very humble effort : to 
awaken latent faculties, so as to broaden, by 
making it more spiritual, the basis of artistic 

Perhaps it is well that this ardent desire for 
regeneration should come from a simple artist. 

Perhaps, too — and it is my own opinion — 
it would have been more effectual if another 
than I — someone of more authority — had 
endeavoured to initiate this. 

I have waited for that man. He has not 
come. I have endeavoured humbly to be that 
man, since no one would raise his voice in the 
name of pure Beauty. 

Who, then, will venture to reproach me with 
having been impatient in my desire for the Ideal 
through Nature, and Beauty through Light ? 

Preface xxxvii 

I do not know what welcome will be given 
to this book that pleads for Spirituality by 
artists or the general public. 

But I venture to say, without pride and 
conscious of my inferiority, that neither Ruskin, 
with his inconsistent and refined eclecticism, 
nor Tolstoi, in spite of his good intentions, 
rendered futile by such sad lack of aesthetic 
culture, and not even Peladan,* so lucid in 
his metaphysics, but whose idealism is too 
aristocratic, or occasionally too lenient to 
antiquated conventions, have presented a clear 
conception of Art as being evolved agreeably 
to all the creative energies, both psychic and 
natural, of the harmonies of existence. 

If some narrow-minded critics, governed by 
paltry prejudice, should declare that it is not 
well for the artist to take up the pen, common 
sense must ask them who then has the right 
to impose limits on the way in which the 
faculties should be manifested. 

If others likewise, confining their interest 
to some particular locality, and disliking the 
universal principle of Idealism, protest, in the 
name of what they call " national art," what 
does it matter ! 

The Future will reply to them. 


* Josephin Peladan, a novelist and writer on art. He is an idealist, 
but broad-minded in his views. His chief works are : " I.e Vice Supreme " ; 
" Comment on devient Mage," " Comment on devient Artiste," and the 
tragedies " Babylon," " La Prometheide," and " CEdipe et le Sphinx." 









New Mission of Art 


TLhe IFlew /HMssion of Hrt 


The Outlook of Modern Art 

Influence of Nature Study on Art — Narrow View of Realism and Impres- 
sionism — Lack of Conscious Effort — Genius is not " Unconscious " 
— False notions of Art have obscured its Mission — Absence of Beauty 
in Modern Art. 

IN no age of humanity, at no period of the 
history of Art, have the works of Nature 
been more loved, studied, felt, and 
better appreciated, seemingly, by our poets, 
our men of science, and our artists. Certainly 
they have exercised over modern minds, and 
over the sensitivity of human beings, on the 
whole, often a fruitful influence, from certain 
points of view, but since we are so under the 
spell of visible things, so confined in our percep- 
tions to objects near at hand, we are forgetful 
of their concealed, mysterious, and divine 

Accustomed to the emotion of the moment, 
which in this world seems to be enough, the 
modern eye can no longer see the ideal significa- 
tion of natural forms. 

For the painter — and contemporary criticism 
strongly encourages him in these narrow ideas 
— creation is nothing more than a superficial 
panorama of pleasurable sights. Impressionism, 
the school of those who are weak and guided 
by instinct, has proved that, as far as it is 

4 The Outlook 

concerned, Realism amounts to a few invariable 
simple tricks of the palette and that the 
moments of eternity which it pretends to know 
how to place on the canvas are confined to an 
aimless and sorry display of fireworks, which 
have only resulted in the negation of Form, 
on which all images of Life must depend ! 

The eye of the realist painter looks out upon 
Nature to receive a mechanical impression, like 
an animal : he looks without seeing ! His gaze 
wanders over objects casually. Wherever there 
is every beauty in Nature, he only sees a 
pretext for optical vibrations. A kind of 
amorphous pantheism, steeping his intellectual 
powers in the emotional unconsciousness of 
instinct and confusing aesthetic emotion with 
that of the animal, has made the artist a 
haphazard being ; that is to say, one whose 
characteristics as an individual have become 
that of a whole class. His vision is that of one 
who looks on a thing for the first time ; his 
feelings are of the same kind : like those of a 
dog or cat ! But the peculiar nature of the 
artist, his power of selection, which ought to 
enable him to see and feel differently to the 
average man, are warped or destroyed by the 
debasing pantheism of his intellectual degrada- 

To the realistic school Nature has ceased to 
be a revelation. Even those who, in the name 
of Isis, frantically wave the red flag of Life and 

of Modern Art 5 

Realism, are, without suspecting it, profaning 
Nature, ever so inscrutable and so fertile ! 

The Naturalism of the present time, so 
insulting to Nature, has broken the bonds which 
unite it to the spiritual world. The threefold 
love of Life, the Ideal, and God, is so narrowed 
in the soul of the modern artist, the love of 
Beauty has so completely escaped his under- 
standing, that genius scarcely now illuminates 
any work. 

Criticism — whose mission would be so noble if 
it were capable of accomplishing it — has become 
the apologist for the lack of conscious effort. 
" Genius is unconscious," it does not cease to 
echo in the willing ears of mighty public opinion. 
Vinci, that mighty mind, Vinci, the most 
theoretical of artists, and the most artistic of 
learned men — unconscious ! ^Eschylus, the 
Titanic conceiver of that " Prometheus " in which 
he formulates the most conscious of symbols — 
unconscious ! Newton, discovering the laws 
of astronomy— unconscious ! The ingenious 
and bewildering inventor of the astrological 
clock of Strasburg Cathedral — unconscious ! 
Raphael, the graceful and sublime composer of 
" The School of Athens " — unconscious ! Bach, 
the mathematician of harmony, Wagner, ex- 
pounding his musical theories — unconscious ! * 

* Wagner's literary works, including " Oper und Drama," " Ueber 
das Dirigiren," " Das Judenthum in der Musik," were published at Leipzig 
in 1871 in nine thick volumes. 

6 The Outlook 

Are all these sublime spirits, who could seize 
a portion of the Universal Light, whence 
streams the life of the whole, shedding its 
radiance on the multitudes unable to perceive 
it, unconscious ? * 

That is where the lack of idealism, or the 
lack of knowledge, must lead. 

Genius in art, the ideal in art, not being 
conceived as the penetration of spirit into life, 
it is natural and inevitable that aethestic 
conception and execution should become 

That mighty faculty, which allows the 
philosopher to arrange his ideas, and the 
artist to use precision and a sense of form 
in the creation of his images, is not, think our 
modern chroniclers and lovers of cheap art, a 
necessity to the craftsman. 

A painter has but to open his eyes, and the 
miracle of a work of art will be evolved uncon- 
sciously ! The Will, that mighty creative force 
which is to be observed in all men of genius, 
and developed in them more than in most 
human beings, need not be brought into play. 
Artists, you are only organisms which perform 
their functions ! You must be satisfied with that 
since the petty critics declare it. 

But Vinci has said : " Painting is the greatest 
mental labour, since necessity compels the painter's 

* " All fine imaginative work is self-conscious and deliberate . . . 
and self-consciousness and the critical spirit are one" (Oscar Wilde. 
" Intentions;' p. 100). 

of Modern Art 7 

spirit to fuse itself with the very spirit of nature, 
and become the interpreter between nature and 
art, studying it to perceive the causes which make 
objects visible to us and under what laws." 

Is not this clear and admirable exposition 
of Vinci's attitude towards art a theme for 
ridicule to the petty critics, who at the present 
time cumber the daily papers with their ill- 
digested and foolish opinions ? 

And how few artists will not shrug their 
shoulders when they read this definition by 
the author of " The Adoration of the Magi " 
and the subtle " Gioconda " ? 

Contemporary ideas of art, praised by dilet- 
tanti, and put into practice by the up-to-date 
date student, have so overwhelmed the soul in 
its chaos and so stifled the consciousness, that 
it will take some time before the heart is again 
opened to the stirring emotions of pure Beauty. 

Acting in opposition to the fundamental 
forces of their nature, yielding to the yoke 
imposed by the false ideas of the day, artists, 
for the most part, have lost their native qualities 
and the moral strength which constitute the 
essence of their individuality. They will fall 
very short of their true destiny as artists, 
because they have allowed themselves to come 
under the spell of a baneful creed of art. 

Thrown into this world " by a decree of the 
supreme powers," as Baudelaire has said, 
coming in order to create with their work a 

8 The Outlook 

Sign — for a work of art is a sign, a perishable 
sign representing an imperishable idea, an 
immortal sentiment — they have lost sight of 
the real reason of their existence, nay more, 
their mission ! 

They have indeed lost sight of themselves. 
They do not know their real worth, not taking 
into account the mystery of which they are the 
living incarnations amid society. 

They have ended by believing — it has been 
dinned into them in every tongue ! — that the 
heart which beats in their breast, the brain 
which throbs in their temples, their hands, the 
precious hands that create, that their whole 
being, in fact, are bound by the same condition 
of life and the same faculties as those of the 
chimney-sweep or shoemaker. 

The artist has to some extent become a 
creature of society. Sad to say, he is no longer 
an individual in the true psychological sense. 

True individualism will be eclectic. To place 
in one's library the " Divina Commedia " by 
the side of " L'Assommoir " * is to offer proof 
of a deplorable weakness of character, and to 
admire equally the vulgar trash of an Ensor f 
and the graceful forms of a Burne-Jones is to 
compromise the lofty sentiment of Beauty and 
Art by a criminal lack of good taste. 

* Zola's novel, well known in its dramatised version as " Drink." 
f J. Ensor, a Belgian painter, exhibitor at the " Cercle des Vingt." 
He is an eccentric painter, loving strange combinations of colour and 
inconsequent fancies. He is represented in the Brussels Gallery by " The 

of Modern Art 9 

It is from this preoccupation with feeling 
or perceiving like the majority, the mob, from 
that eager interest in the general, that those 
execrable paradoxes have emanated which have 
given rise to the phrase " The Socialising of Art," 
" The Democratising of Art." 

Realism, by reason of its low affinities, must 
accompany this degraded view of art. We have 
reached that stage. The exhibitions, open to 
works defying every possible law, are with us 
to prove that art, when it is not based on the 
immutable principles of Beauty, can give birth 
to ugly and senseless things, and bring the Art 
of our divine Masters very low indeed. 

The true ideal view of art, the only one 
which Art needs to live for and evolve, has been 
deserted to the advantage of the most foolish 
abominations of realism. They have made 
caricatures instead of delineating character. 
Under the pretext of colour and lighting, there 
has arisen Impressionism, that neurotic malady 
affecting hand and eye, and in the name of 
originality they have begun to paint prison cells 
in order to mingle what is horrible with what is 

Our exhibitions, both those held every three 
years and others, are flagrant examples of a 
shameful degradation, if we may venture to 
confess what is evident. There is, too, the 
inevitable result which must strike at the very 
roots of the existence, generally speaking, of 

io The Outlook 

modern art. The absence of idealism in a work 
is a blemish. Where there is no idealism, there 
is only something imperfect or meaningless, 
and that is why pictures of interiors, flowers, 
still-life, or landscape, will never be the subjects 
of true art.* 

* Brussels is the real centre of Art in Belgium. Excellent triennial 
exhibitions are held at Ghent, and other towns, as Liege, Tournay, Namur, 
Mons, and Spa, also have periodical exhibitions. The realism of the Belgian, 
Baron Henri Leys (1815-1869), and that of the Frenchman, Courbet, had 
a strong influence on modern Belgian art. Under that influence at Brussels 
was founded the " Free Society of Fine Arts " and the " Cercle des Vingt," 
which introduced into its exhibitions works by the greatest foreign artists, 
however widely differing in aim and method, thus inculcating the principle 
of " individuality in art." 


The Nature of Idealism : the 
Threefold Harmony 

Idealism Spiritualises Art — Influence on Consciousness of Spiritual Vibra- 
tions — Threefold base of Idealism : Beauty of Idea, Form, and 
Execution — Choice of Artist not restricted by Idealism — Close study 
of Nature necessitated by it — Impressionism the Poetry of the 
Moment : Its Fallacy — He who has an Ideal not therefore an 
Idealist — Principle of Selection in Nature — Pure Beauty only found 
in the realm of the Ideal — Materialism of Modern Art — Limitations 
of Landscape — Evolution of a Work of Art — Sensation, Emotion, 

IDEALISM and ART are the same thing. 
But the Ideal has been separated from 
Art, nay, it has been expelled from it ! 
As idealism in philosophy is equilibrium in 
ideas or the constant search for psychic perfec- 
tion, so idealism in art is its sublimation, the 
introduction of Spirituality into Art. 

The Idea, in the metaphysical or occult 
sense, is Force, the universal and divine force 
which moves worlds, and its movement is the 
supreme rhythm whence springs the harmonious 
working of Life. 

Where there is no thought, there is no life, 
no creation. The modern western world has 
become unconscious of this tremendous power 
of the Ideal, and Art inevitably has thus 
become degraded. This ignorance of the 
creative forces of thought has, nevertheless, 
obscured and diverted towards materialism all 
modern judgment. Materialism does not know 
how ideas and thoughts vibrate, and how these 

12 The Nature of Idealism : 

vibrations impinge on the consciousness of the 

And yet these vibrations, though invisible to 
the greater part of mankind, are able to exercise 
an astounding influence over the mentality of 
human beings, and thus assist in their evolution. 
Before works of genius the human consciousness 
receives mental and spiritual vibrations, which 
are generated by the force of the idea reflected. 
The more elevated, pure, and sublime a work 
is, the more the inner being, coming into 
contact with the ideal vibration emanated from 
it, will be raised, purified, and made sublime. 
The artist who is not ideal, that is to say, the 
artist who does not know that every form must 
be the result of an idea, and that every idea 
must have its form, the artist, in short, who 
does not know that Beauty is the luminous 
conception of equilibrium in forms, will never 
have any influence over the soul, because his 
works will be really without thought, that is, 
without life. 

The Idea is the emotion of the Spirit as 
Emotion is the reflex of the Soul. 

But the emotions should be brought into 
harmony. The artist, for instance, should not 
feel that nervous, physical, instinctive, vibration 
produced by the lower nature. Those emotions 
do not offer sufficient security to give assurance 
of the emotional and impulsive higher part. 

I have seen silly people moved to tears before 

The Threefold Harmony 13 

the most trifling things, and remain stolid before 
masterpieces or impressive sights. I have seen 
artists fall into an ecstasy before " pierrettes " 
by Willette,* or a pig more or less well painted, 
and jest at the tremendous conceptions of a 
Michael Angelo ! 

We see that emotion, in order to be real, 
must come from above, and ought always to be 
purely ideal. 

It will not be a coarse and unhealthy 
emotion, like that displayed by the realist, 
impressionist, and amorphous schools, which 
will influence the artist in the elaboration of 
his work. It is against those very schools, which 
are destroying contemporary art, and whose 
victims are numberless, that the Idealist view 
of art is attempting to bring about a reaction. 
It is against this unintellectual, inharmonious, 
debased, and revolutionary art, in which the 
elements of materialism are supreme, and where 
the essential dignity of Art is roughly thrust 
aside, that the Idealist is taking his stand and 
asserting himself. 

In opposition to this art, so lacking in the 
ideal, where eclecticism barely conceals its 
shameless favouring of commonplace tendencies, 
as incongruous as they are fruitless, where 
empty fancy alone replaces the science of art, 
the idealist tendency upholds the principles of 

* Willette (b. 1857), a prominent French caricaturist and black and 
white artist. An ideal delineator of the " risque " side of contemporary life. 

14 The Nature of Idealism : 

selection and construction, arranged on this 
basis of artistic perfection : — 

Beauty of Idea (La Beaute spirituelle) . 

Beauty of Form (La Beaute plastique). 

Beauty of Execution (La Beaute technique). 
And all those who have not been able to pene- 
trate the mystery of art, who do not perceive 
its divine mission, and who do not understand 
the sublime origin of Beauty, will argue in vain 
against this truth. 

We defy anyone who should attempt to refute 
or deny the value of the three terms which 
constitute, in our eyes, the comprehensive 
unity of a work of art to demonstrate a theory 
of art as overwhelming and as thorough in 
which, as in ours, all theories should be contained 
or a tendency so predominant and perfect which 
should summarise, as ours does, all that is best 
in all others. 

We do not hesitate to affirm that anyone 
who shall understand the exact import of our 
proposition will be convinced that it formulates 
what is the very essence of art, and that there 
is no other by which the personality of the 
artist can be evolved in a clearer way. 

By Beauty of Idea (Beaute Spirituelle) is to 
be understood a lofty conception of the subject, 
this of itself being a means of artistic idealism. 
Then follows the conception of beautiful, noble, 
and great things. The choice of a high theme, 
so that the painter should not be over-careful 

The Threefold Harmony 15 

in the mere tricks of his brush, which should 
never be the end, but the means. That is Idea 
in a work. 

By Beauty of Form (Beaute plastique) is 
meant the striving after perfection of Form ! 
the choice of the most beautiful, the purest, 
most perfect, and most expressive forms. To 
reject as far as possible in one's work all that 
does not aid in the harmony of line, and to 
accept nothing misshapen or ugly. Ugliness is 
only permissible in art under synthetic or 
symbolic forms. It appears as an accident of 
nature, which can only be transferred into a 
work in its finest aspects, when the typical 
becomes- merged in what is individual ! * 

By Beauty of Execution (Beaute technique) 
we mean the refinement of one's craft to such 
a point that it does not predominate in the 
work to the harm of the expression. The 
painter ought to make his brush a wonderful 
instrument, in order to understand how best 
to realise his conception ; technical skill, being 
the means, ought to be put at the service of 
the two preceding terms in order to approach 
Perfection. Every piece of handicraft that does 
not realise any ideal is an inferior work, a dead 
work. The process matters little ; only the 
technical and personal quality of its application 
is of importance. 

* Watts' pictures of " Mammon " and " The Minotaur " are examples 
of symbolic ugliness. 

16 The Nature of Idealism : 

Idealists have been reproached heedlessly 
enough with being " exclusive," and with 
wishing to impose certain subjects on the artist. 
And we have protested each time that we 
conveniently could, declaring that selection is 
legitimate, and conforms to the mysterious laws 
of nature. 

The idealist theory of art imposes no subject ; 
it leaves to the artist every liberty to create, 
but urges him to work by a system to a loftier 

The hierarchy of art is based on the hierarchy 
of being. Every true evolution is a victory over 
temperament and instinct. The artist who 
cannot master the fatal forces of his lower self, 
so as to consciously bend them to his service, 
will never know the genius of Perfection, the 
very soul of Art ! 

The difference which lies between the 
Idealist tendency and the ordinary schools is 
that it is based upon a truth drawn from the 
splendid JVfystery of Life, and the well-head of 
the purest masterpieces, and that it adapts the 
glorious examples of the Past to the evolu- 
tionary impulses of the Future, in order to 
maintain Art in the high spheres of human 
idealism, whence it cannot descend without 
falling into decay. Idealism should represent 
beauty in science, and science in beauty. 

I know that most people absurdly think that 
idealism in art is but an empty puff of pale 

I 'ange (fernand khnopf.) 

u e pagt r . 

The Threefold Harmony 17 

smoke veiling the artist's sight, and causing 
him to see Nature through the mist of a book- 
man's dreams in which the images of life are 
fashioned, and that the idealist artist disdains 
to go to eternal prolific Nature. We have often 
said how false this supposition is, and how, 
on the contrary, idealism demands that Nature 
should be doubly studied, seeking to penetrate, 
not only into its mere objective aspect, but also 
into the mystic essence of its synthetic meaning. 
The work of art in which there does not 
vibrate a harmonious combination of all the 
elements which constitute life and the ideal 
will only be an elementary work. What will 
always cause the inferiority of landscape is that 
it will only be able to translate impressions. 
Now the poetry of Nature has other mysteries 
than those which the realist landscape-painters 
invariably show us, too limited as they are 
in their scenes of country life, reduced to the 
mere problem of natural light, whence has 
sprung that modern puerile impressionism so 
justly criticised by Chavannes * : " The Impres- 
sionists are the poets of the Moment (Poetes de 

* Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898) was the son of a mining engineer 
at Lyons. He was bred to his father's profession, but after a visit to Italy 
he determined to devote himself to art. He attached himself for a short 
time to Scheffcr, Delacroix, and Couture, but he was of the opinion that 
he gained little from any of them. His early work was loudly decried by 
the critics, but he found warm defenders in Theophile Gautier and Theodore 
de Banville. In 1861 he produced a great impression with " Peace " and 
" War," one of which was purchased for the museum at Amiens. These 
pictures inaugurated a great series of decorative works which won for him 
a unique position in French art. Chief among them were two emblematical 
paintings at Marseilles, the " Ludus Pro Patria " at Amiens, " The Sacred 
Grove " and " The Vision of the Antique " at Lyons, the series of " The 

18 The Nature of Idealism : 

I'Ephemere). Observe that their ideal rests upon 
a natural contradiction, and can never be absolutely 
realised ; they pretend to fix the passing moment, 
the fleeting aspect of things. Now things, in their 
superficial aspect, are so changing that before an 
effect has time to take place it has already ceased 
to exist." 

Why are some critics heard strangely 
reproaching the idealist movement with a 
pretended " exclusiveness," which protests with 
good reason at the heart-breaking increase of 
landscapes and their accessories : " There are 
as many ideals as there are artists," they cry, 
with a logic which M. Prudhomme would 
assuredly envy. 

Evidently every artist has his ideal. The 
ideal of one will lie in painting a pan of roast 
chestnuts, another in conscientiously painting 
a litter of pigs, while another will elevate his 
soul, as a man and an artist, towards an ideal 
of beauty. Then every artist, whether he is a 

Life of St. Genevieve " and " The Old Age of St. Genevieve " in the 
Pantheon at Paris, and the great hemicycle at the Sorbonne symbolical 
of Science, Art, and Letters. In some respects his position among French 
painters is somewhat analagous to that of the Pre- Raphaelites in England, 
but he was without their romantic sentiment. His compositions were 
profoundly influenced by his study of the antique, and aimed at simplicity 
of idea and dignity of design. He was distinguished especially from the 
classical school which preceded him by the rich landscape setting in which 
his figures were placed and his decorative treatment of natural objects. 
The realist school charged him with ignoring Nature ; he contended that 
it was from Nature that he drew his inspiration. His works were mostly 
intended to decorate large buildings, and were conceived on a vast scale. 
They are often spoken of as frescoes ; but Chavannes did not attempt 
fresco-painting, preferring to paint with oil on canvas which was afterwards 
applied to the wall, his scheme of colour being subdued in order to har- 
monize with the architectural environment. 

The Threefold Harmony 19 

student of nature or realism, is an idealist too ! 
On this assumption, directly a painter covers a 
bit of canvas with some tubes of paint, or a 
sculptor moulds a lump of clay with his fingers, 
they are justified in calling themselves idealists. 

That is an argument which it is no use 
attempting to controvert. In the eyes of many 
good people there is no question that Francois 
Coppee is as much of a poet as Baudelaire ! 

But few people suspect that nature is itself, 
in principle, and in fact, very exclusive. In 
every rank of life, whether vegetable, animal, 
or human, there is to be found a selective 
hierarchy. Observe, for instance, how exclusive 
the bee is in the choice of the flowers from which 
it gets its spoil. O you of the pantheistic- 
eclectic school, will you find fault with it for 
that ? No, because you know that it is seeking 
a rare and precious substance which every 
flower does not possess in the same degree. 
Well, the idealist is something like a bee, who, 
in obedience to Nature's laws, chooses this 
and rejects that. 

Puvis de Chavannes, who always uses the 
lofty language of the Great Masters, has not 
said in vain : " Nature contains everything, but 
in a confused way. It must be formed of all that 
is the residt of chance or accident, of all that is 
for the moment inexpressive ; that is to say, 
which does not tend to alter our thoughts. In 
a word, we may say that Art completes what 

20 The Nature of Idealism : 

Nature roughly outlines, and speaks the word 
which the vastness of Nature is stammering." 

Baudelaire himself perceived this with 
terrible clearness, when he said : "Although 
the universal principle be one, Nature never 
completes anything." 

That fine thought is a truth. It passes 
judgment on the impressionist view of nature, 
and supports artistic idealism. 

Pure Beauty, pure Harmony, only dwell in 
the world of the Ideal. 

A truth that modern critics, and even the 
majority of artists, fail to understand is that 
Art is the incarnation of the Idea, of the Word, 
under the forms of Nature. It is because they 
do not understand this definition that most 
of them lose their way in the barren discussions 
of the schools, and that artists — the Belgians, 
above all ! — wallow in their artistic materialism 
which limits life to the objective world. If Art, 
speaking from the point of view of socie-1 
does not aim at spiritualising the grossness of 
popular ideas, it is right to ask what is its real 
utility, or rather the reason for its existence. 
What intellectual emotion can be aroused by 
a pile of draperies, or a still-life subject, 
whether they are " flambes " or not ? How can 
the mind feel elevated before fish or oysters, 
a bulldog, or a donkey's head, soiled linen, 
the patches on the trousers of a workman or 
peasant, and what thoughts are likely to arise 

The Threefold Harmony 21 

before a landscape more or less well painted ? 
A landscape, an element of decoration, may 
make us dream for the moment, and dreaming 
is ever an inferior condition of the soul ! 

We have always been amused at the bourgeois 
who surrounds himself with landscapes to 
view the country at his ease because he knows 
it. They are the favourite ornaments of good 
dining-rooms. From the sensational point of 
view what comprises the charm of landscape in 
Nature is the perpetual and elusive movement 
of light over objects. 

The landscape, especially the landscape of the 
realist painter, is the art of the uncultured 

In a landscape we do not get beyond the 
fleeting and personal side of impression* Every 
admirer of painted scenery is ever a possible 
bourgeois, who only feels the wish to journey 
in imagination to some nook of nature. I speak, 
be it understood, of those invariable common- 
place daubs of paint where the artist has merely 
busied himself in imitating the particular 

* Perhaps Landscape possesses an inner mystic significance which has 
not yet been fully comprehended. The Irish poet, A.E., himself a painter 
of imaginative landscape, says : " A great landscape is the expression of 
a mood of the human mind as definitely as music or poetry is. The 
artist is communicating his own emotions. There is some mystic signifi- 
cance in the colour he employs ; and then the doorways are opened, and 
we pass from sense into soul. We are looking into the soul when we look 
at a Turner, Corot, or a Whistler. ... No one can say how far, 
Turner, in his search after light, had not journeyed into the lost Eden, 
and he himself may have been there most surely at the last when his 
pictures had become a blaze of incoherent light." (" On Art and Literature,' ' 

22 The Nature of Idealism : 

imperfections of some piece of scenery. Strictly 
speaking, I am in favour of an imaginative 
landscape, when it presents to my eyes the 
enchantments of fairyland. The works of the 
Englishman, Turner, are, in this connection, 
a magnificent revelation. The ineffaceable 
impression of his fantastic landscapes still 
glows in my soul, but what a pity that this 
visionary had to confine his faculties to atmos- 
pheric glories alone ! I can picture to myself 
with enthusiasm what a wonderful and potent 
artist he would have been had he known how 
to combine his visions of magical landscapes 
with the power of figure composition ! 

I have said already, and I like to repeat 
it, that Landscape is only possible and tolerable 
in art so far as it serves as background to some 
human action. The scenic illusions of the stage 
are a proof of what I advance. 

Never did landscape receive a higher poetic 
significance than in the Elysian Fields in 
Gliick's " Orpheus," because never has it so 
artistically fulfilled its part as a background. 
In that case, landscape was what it ought 
always to be — the pictured space across which 
the human form moves. A great lesson in art 
is to be derived from this sublime scene. Gliick 
shows himself there to be not only a great 
musician, but also a great painter. 

Landscape means background. The painter 
who paints a landscape under the pretence 

The Threefold Harmony 23 

of merely practising his palette or by way of a 
study will be doing right. He will be wrong every 
time he exhibits this acrobatic feat of his brush. 

Landscape, as far as pictures are concerned, 
is one of the illegitimate forms of Art. And, 
further, it is the product of a decadence. In 
fact, landscape entered the province of art 
at the time when the great Italian art was 
falling into decay. Gradually those less skilled 
diminished the representation of the human 
form in their increasing pictures of Nature, 
and nowadays the incapable have allowed it 
to completely disappear. It may be said that 
a work of art strictly begins by being a Sensation 
— a physical, inferior, realist state ; an Emotion 
— a middle state in which the soul is moved, 
and sentiment awakened ; a Conception — a 
loftier, ideal, and spiritual state. What is 
sensation then ? For the most part artists and 
critics do not know what it is. They say very 
evasively, defining it in general terms, that it 
is " the vibration of our whole being," without 
knowing either how or from where this vibra- 
tion comes. 

From a physiological, as well as psychological, 
point of view, sensation is that sensitive force 
of which the nerve cells are the conducting 
threads. It is by Sensation that the sense 
perceptions of the body are communicated to 
the Consciousness. But by what are Life and 
Will communicated to this Consciousness ? 

24 The Nature of Idealism : 

By the centre of emotion in a being : the 
heart. Through the heart indeed we feel 
sensations of pleasure or grief, because pure 
sensation is here still belonging to the state 
of instinct, a pleasure or a grief being uncon- 
scious of or outside our will. In the emotional 
centre, the heart, which draws its fluctuations 
from these elements of life which are ever 
shifting and allied to the soul, we reach the state 
of emotion. By means of it are manifested 
sentiment, the passions, love, hatred, etc. 
Finally we reach the mental and spiritual state ; 
that is, the region of inspiration. Through that 
are gained the perceptions of truth or false- 
hood, beauty and ugliness, etc. A materialist 
writer on art, Gabriel Seailles, has formulated 
a great artistic truth without suspecting the 
occult reality of what it conveys : " An image 
is the sensation spiritualised." It is sensation, 
which, penetrating the higher kinds of vibra- 
tions, is transformed to such a degree that it 
becomes perception. 

It is then that there is accomplished what 
is termed, with regard to a philosopher, the 
association of ideas, and with regard to an 
artist, the formation of images ; it is then that 
Sensation is transformed into Emotion, and 
becomes, under the complicated action of the 
spiritual forces set in motion, thought and will. 
That is where creation begins, and the point 
whence the work takes shape. The organ which 

The Threefold Harmony 25 

serves for the psychic transmission of thought 
is the brain. Needless to say, these forces 
perform their functions with the organs more 
quickly than one can write about them. Without 
attempting to explain here how the vibrations 
of thought act on the matter of the brain, it 
is sufficient to say that the idea is transmitted 
with the rapidity of lightning. 

According to the hierarchy of creative 
vibrations, the work is evolved in the true 
artist by Idea, Image, and Form. The idea 
is the mental connexion ; the image is the 
astral connexion ; the form is the physical 
connexion. The physical corresponds with 
sensation ; the astral corresponds with emotion ; 
the mental corresponds with inspiration. 

The man who is an artist is then impelled, 
impassioned, or inspired according to the centre 
which acts on his consciousness ; that is to 
say, he is at different times under the low 
domination of instinct, the body ; under the 
intermediate influence of sentimental emotion, 
passion, the soul ; and under the higher inspira- 
tion of spirit, the psychic being, the life of 
intellect and will. The work, considered for 
the sake of analogy as a kind of being, will 
have, as man has, a Body, Soul, and Spirit. It 
will possess, then, three harmonious influences 
forming its vital unity, namely, a plastic Form, 
a pure Emotion or lofty Sentiment, and an 
Idea. To be complete, proportionately to its 

26 The Nature of Idealism 

origin, a work of art should show the twofold 
action of involution through the Idea to the 
Form, and evolution of the Form towards the 


The Principle of Beauty 

To attain Perfection, Art must express Beauty — Artistic Laws do not 
interfere with the Artist's Personality — The Artist dependent on 
Beauty — Beauty an Absolute Principle — Necessity for studying the 
Laws of Cosmic Ideas — The Art of the Future an Art of lofty Emotion 
and Reason — The Law of Beauty the Law of Life — Life is Harmony, 
Harmony is Beauty — The Harmony of Sound and of Form — The 
Physical and Mental phases of Nature — The Mirror of the Divine — 
Modern Ugliness : Academic, Realistic, Amorphous. 

ON no pretext can it be denied that the 
essential end of Art is Perfection, which 
is nothing more than Beauty expressed 
by means and pure conceptions of everything 
ugly. This does not mean that Perfection will 
be found under the limitations of an ideal 
based upon an immutable formula and process. 
The first condition of a work is that it shall 
be beautiful. But beautiful how, and in what 
way ? Beautiful in itself, the eclectic school 
will invariably reply ; that is, all those who 
have only a poor comprehension of art, and 
who do not know upon what mysterious and 
sublime foundations the whole theory of art is 
reared. A work of art, to deserve that rare 
term, must be beautiful in a threefold way, or 
it will not be so at all. I know that to demand 
this requires an equilibrium and a harmony 
in the creative powers of the artist very rarely 
met with in this age, taking into consideration 
the material tendency of modern ways of 
thought, and the weakness of artists in striving 
towards perfection. One often hears it said 
by superficial people, and I have often seen 

28 The Principle 

it written too, that it is dangerous for the 
development of personality to lay down 
principles for artistic creation. From that, 
say they, spring conventions (poncifs) and 
schools. There is no absolute Ideal, shouts 
one side ; there is no absolute Beauty, shouts 
another. Now the disastrous error of the 
conventional schools simply rests in wishing 
that principle should replace the artist's 
personality , which must inevitably result in 
an absurd generalisation ; that is, a " poncif." 
What constitutes the absurdity and poverty 
of true conventional art is the principle of 
uniformity in composition and execution. But 
to deny the laws of art on account of an error, 
either of a special or general character, formu- 
lated by a school that has gone astray is to 
fall into the same absurdity ! There exists 
a Law of Art, as there exists a Universal Law, 
mother of all other laws. To deny the existence 
of Laws is nothing more or less than proving 
oneself to be insane, or unconscious, which 
comes almost to the same thing. Beauty has 
its absolute ideal, as mathematics has its 
absolute number. Just as the mighty harmony 
of the physical and moral world indicates 
and reveals to us the evidence of an immutable 
wisdom, of principles and eternal laws, and 
of an infinitely active creative intelligence 
forming the Absolute, so in the same way 
Art has its absolute principle. 

of Beauty 29 

Many eminent writers and philosophers, who 
are still victims to the great illusion of our 
modern materialistic individualism, believe that 
beauty depends on the individual artistic 
genius alone. To them beauty exists only so 
far as personality makes it manifest, and 
outside personality beauty has no existence. 
They declare consequently that there is no 
ideal absolute beauty at all. According to 
this untoward theory, well designed to develop 
the vanity of art and destroy the love of the 
Beautiful, it is not the artist who depends on 
Beauty, but Beauty which depends on the 
artist ! And that is equivalent to saying that 
man does not depend on Life, but Life depends 
on man, or that it is not Law that causes 
phenomena, but that phenomena is the cause 
of Law. As a mistaken idea of metaphysics, 
a mistaken idea of art criticism, we must deplore 
all its manifold consequences. 

It is not difficult to understand that if 
there exists an absolute principle of universal 
equilibrium by which the probelm of contra- 
diction is solved, there exists also an absolute 
principle of Beauty, which is beyond all imper- 
fections. Beauty could not be the unconscious 
consequence of the play of our fancy, whether 
that of genius or not. The creative intelligence 
of the artist is not set in motion by the mere 
accident of the action of the brain, outside the 
ideal world. 

30 The Principle 

The artist, in order to evolve, will have 
to extend the study of nature to the great laws 
of cosmic Ideas. That knowledge will urge him 
to penetrate the mystery and hidden meaning 
in the forms of the visible World. 

He will have thereafter a clearer conception 
of Life. In accordance with Truth, by the 
light of esoteric Science, he will perceive more 
clearly the splendours of the Divine, the 
splendours of the Universe, and the splendours 
of Man ; that is, eternal Harmony and Beauty. 
The artist in his art, as the sage in his science, 
must be in agreement with the harmony of 
the world. 

As matter is a unity, so Beauty is a unity, 
though manifested by a different kind of vibra- 
tion. It is the duty of the artist to seek this 
Beauty through the various degrees in which 
its appearance undergoes alteration. 

The Art of the Future will inevitably be an 
art of lofty emotion and lofty reason, or it will 
be nothing at all. " The artist of the future,'' 
says Peladan, " will be he who shall consciously 
have established an agreement between his psychic 
personality and universal science, in just harmony 
with Life and the Ideal." 

The Law of the Beautiful, which in itself 
comprises the whole evolution of art, is the 
same, to use an analogy, as that which governs 
Life. Pure Beauty reflects the essence of the 
World. To anlayse Beauty ; that is, to seek 

of Beauty 31 

for its principles, is to endeavour to learn the 
causes and laws of universal mystery. 

Beauty is the synonym of Truth. 

God, or, for greater clearness, the Universal 
sum of Essence, the eternal principle of that 
which has, is, and will be, is manifested in Art by 
the same laws as those by which He exhibits His 
external aspect in Nature or the physical plane. 

The idea of God corresponds to the idea of 
supreme Harmony, which agrees with the idea 
of Unity. Life is neither unconscious in its 
creation, nor spontaneous in its evolution. 
Life is Harmony ; Harmony is Beauty ! 

Concerning vision as much as hearing, 
harmony does not belong exclusively to the 
domains of music or sound. As sounds are 
produced by the vibrations of the air, colours 
are produced by the vibrations of ether. It 
is impossible to put harmony and rhythm in an 
exclusive category. Rhythm, or harmony, 
exists as much in the world of forms as in that 
of sound. In music we hear harmony ; in 
plastic art we see harmony. 

Universal Harmony, the divine law of Equili- 
brium, which is in beings and things, will be 
perceived in different but analogical methods 
of idealism, as real, alive, and perceptible, 
in the works of a Pheidias or De Vinci, as in 
those of a Beethoven or a Wagner. 

For between the sound and form there is 
a mystic communion that the study of magical 

32 The Principle 

incantations will especially enable one to 
perceive and understand. 

The creative power of the World is expressed 
by Form. The divine mirage of created life, 
it reveals to our spiritual gaze the mystery 
of art, for Nature is not art, but art is concealed 
in Nature like a supernatural treasure. Genius 
lies in seeing the glitter of this treasure through 
the physical density of matter. 

The realist or impressionist artist is only 
in touch with the physical plane of Nature, 
the lower objective plane. 

The idealist artist, generally speaking, and 
genius, in particular, are in touch with the 
mental plane, the superior subjective plane. 

That is why artists of genius are seers, that 
there are exceptions, and that mere craftsmen 
are innumerable ! 

The ideal is in us, and we are in the ideal. 

The spirit seeks or guesses at the spirit of 
Nature, which is the secret beauty of things, 
the essential image beneath the image of sub- 
stance, the subjective form under the objective 
form, the unseen in the seen. 

Human thought, reflecting God and Nature, 
is evolved in a similar way to this. Natural 
selection, which affects both the vegetable and 
animal planes, is concerned likewise with 
humanity or the plane of the ideal. 

Occult cosmogony teaches that the physical 
universe is the materialisation of the fluid 

of Beauty 33 

universe. In fact all forms of Nature pre-exist 
in a fluid state before existing in a state of 
objective matter. The great cosmic problem, 
as far as natural phenomena (phenomenisme 
natnrant) is concerned, can have no other 
explanation, and as long as positive science 
refuses to recognise this elementary and experi- 
mental truth, it will not unravel the secrets 
of matter, which, with such childish pride, it 
thinks that it has defined ! 

The creative powers which are manifested 
in Nature are not limited to the laws of physical 
activity alone, based upon the illusory relation 
of our five organic senses. 

But we may henceforth declare, in spite of 
the blind protest of narrow minds, that what 
we call Reality is no more Truth than it is 
Beauty, of which it only contains the mysterious 
and divine germs. 

The origin of the Beautiful is the origin of 
Creation, and the origin of Creation is God ! 
Beauty is the daughter of the Absolute. It is 
its most harmonious plastic emanation. It 
is the soul of Form, the reflection of the Essence 
in the Substance. It is the truth of Essence 
in the falsity of Matter, since, as a lucid philoso- 
pher has put it, external forms exist, but are 

He who through the real forms can see the 
combination of the three powers, the three 
states, the three mysterious equilibriums, he 


34 The Principle 

alone will understand life and the secret of its 
aesthetic growth, he alone will understand the 
power of Art ! 

Art, like Life, has its origin in God. Like 
science, Art reveals God. Beauty is the Mirror 
of God. 

Every work that does not cause God to be 
felt is an abortion, the lees of all that is imperfect, 
the ashes of empty technique, a labour false 
and useless. Whether it be expressed through 
Evil or Good, through sin or prayer, Beauty 
must be either the sullied mirror or the open 
stainless sky, o'er which is wafted the terrible 
and sublime thrills of the Divine. 

But how degrading to modern art is the 
impertinence of inferior artists who abuse form 
in every possible way in their clumsy abomina- 
tions, their endeavours to be archaic, and their 
feeble imitations of early times when art could 
still only stammer ! 

It is in Ugliness, which is stamped on all the 
strange grimaces of elementary expression, all 
dark forms of animalism, the pitiable imprint 
of some embryonic mystery, that degenerate 
imaginations, artists who have gone astray, 
and degraded minds, take refuge. 

For the conventional ugliness of academies 
they have substituted the ugliness of realism 
and finally the ugliness of amorphousness. 

A barren infatuation, induced by the bad 
taste, or the errors of a few idle aesthetics or 

of Beauty 35 

artists, lacking balance, has brought about a 
return to the dark days of art by degrading the 
human form, and thus confusing the expression 
of moral beauty with its most pitiful elements. 
This grotesque retrogressive idealism, which 
is the negation of art and its evolutionary 
impulse, results in corrupting the artist's 
personality or making him return to his child- 


The Importance of Theory 

Harmony of the Natural, the Human and the Divine — Animal Perception 
of Colour — Colour a Medium of Expression, not an End — Objections 
to Idealist Theory — Need for Theory in order to conceive " The 
Universal " — Every Genius is a Theorist — What is the Beautiful ? — 
Shortcomings of Academic and Scientific Methods — The Poetry of 
Things and the Poetry of Ideas — The Salvation of ./Esthetics— 
The Artist must follow the Living Tradition, not the Dead. 

A WORK of idealism, then, is that in which 
the three great Words of Life are brought 
into harmony : the Natural, the 
Human, the Divine. To reach that degree of 
artistic merit — which is not attained at the first 
attempt, I am quite convinced ! — there must 
be found in the work the purest idea within the 
scope of the mind, the most beautiful form in 
the whole range of things that have shape, 
and the most perfect technique in the execution. 
Without idea, the work fails in its intellectual 
mission ; without form, it fails in its mission 
towards nature ; without technique, it fails to 
reach perfection. No wise critic, no thoughtful 
lover of art, no intelligent artist, will gainsay 
with any show of reason this tendency of idealism, 
which is pre-eminent over every other formula 
of the schools, because it is that of Art as a 
whole, of almighty Art ; and nothing will 
prevail against it either now or at any future 
time. The true character of a work of idealism 
is to be found in the equilibrium which governs 
its production ; that is, in preventing either the 
idea, form, or technique from predominating 
to the detriment of one or other of the three 

The Importance of Theory 37 

essential terms ; but that they should always 
be balanced as far as possible agreeably in 
proportion to their respective value. I think 
it may be of use to cite examples with regard 
to this. Wiertz,* a man of impulsive imagination 
(imaginatif — impulsif), that is, almost insane 
according to pathology, has confusedly expressed 
his often commonplace ideas in chaotic forms, 
and with a deplorable technique. With Wiertz 
the imagination in its degree of instinct held 
sway to the point of vertigo,fand for form 
allowed him only the ugliness of his fantastic 
and extravagant Homeric battles. 

As an example of a different kind, I will 
mention De Braeckeleer,f a man of small 

* Antoine Wiertz (1806-1865) occupies a unique place in the history 
of Belgian art. Owing to his dislike for parting with his paintings, he long 
remained little known outside his own country, and, though possessed 
of strong individuality, left behind him no followers. He early came under 
the spell of Rubens, and the great aim of his life was to rival the works 
of that master. His genius was of such an eccentric nature that his work 
was curiously uneven. Always fantastic and extravagant, he was often 
dominated by a great and noble impulse, as in his huge canvases, " The 
Greeks and Trojans contending for the body of Patroclus," " The Triumph 
of Christ," " The Revolt of Hell," and " The Last Cannon," but at other 
times he descended to what was meretricious and sensational. Some of 
his work, as " Hunger, Madness, and Crime," " Buried Alive," " The 
Thoughts of aSevered Head," are the productions of a morbid and neurotic 
fancy. Not content with oil as a medium for painting large canvases 
he set to work to discover a medium for himself. He eventually painted 
most of his works in a lustreless medium, which he termed " peinture 
mate," very coarse in quality, and looking at a distance like a rude tapestry. 
He endured considerable poverty, but, with the exception of portraits, 
refused to paint for money. " Keep your gold," on one occasion he said, 
" it is the murderer of art." His works are all gathered, as in his lifetime, 
under one roof in the " Musee Wiertz " at Brussels. 

t H. de Braeckeleer, a Belgian painter, a pupil of Leys, the leader of 
the Realist School. His subjects are mostly interiors painted in warm 
golden tones. He is represented in the Brussels gallery by "A 
Geographer," " The Interior of a Farm," and " A Shop." 

38 The Importance 

intellect bordering on degeneracy, who only 
knew how to look at things with the eye of an 
animal ; that is, according to the receptive 
power of the optic nerves rendered more or 
less active by the work of digestion. If a cow, 
in its ruminating state, could paint, it would be 
the finest of colourists, its retina then possessing 
an extraordinary visual sensibility. This peculi- 
arity explains why the realist painters who 
excel in colour are generally great eaters and 
drinkers ; and of limited intelligence. And 
with respect to this I invite my brother painters 
to make a little experiment, which will not fail 
to edify them : While fasting, or nearly so, 
paint some object, solely from an objective 
point of view, and then repaint the same object 
during the process of digestion, after a heavy 
meal. Compare the two studies with regard 
to their colour, and tell me if that done under 
the influence of digestion will not be richer and 
more glowing than the other ! 

It must be understood that what results 
from this particular condition will be in propor- 
tion to the optic power of the retina. The 
painter who is not a colourist will not any the 
more possess the gift of colour, but his eye, 
influenced more or less by organic action, by 
that portion of vital force which circulates in 
the organ, conveyed by the blood globules and 
induced by the process of digestion, will be 
better enabled to seize the appearance of colour. 

of Theory 39 

I allow myself to make this observation, based 
upon a theory, which, although of a physiolo- 
gical nature, proves clearly that colour — as far 
at least as it is understood by the realists, 
spottists, and dottists — is not by any means 
a faculty depending on the artist's genius. 
This disconcerting theory proves likewise that 
colour must never be the painter's end, but his 
means of expression, and it is this that Dela- 
croix,* a great, but intellectual, colourist, has 
so forcibly demonstrated in his works and 
expatiated upon in his writings. Ever new 
theories, those will thoughtlessly cry who seem 
not to have observed that man cannot open his 
mouth or take up his pen without theorising ! 
In science, theory is often derived from 
natural phenomena, but it may be said that 
in art phenomena emanates from theory. 
The unknown sublime creator of the Venus of 
Milo, to reach that degree of beauty, had to 
theorise as much, I presume, as the ingenious 
mechanician Edison had to do in order to 
produce his phonograph. 

Laws and principles exist everywhere in 
Nature. The law or the principle is not by any 

* Eugene Delacroix (179S— 1863 x ; was one of the leaders of the French 
historical and romantic school. He refused on principle to go to Italy 
lest the old masters, either in spirit or manner, should impair his originality 
and self-dependence. He appears to have been one of the first modern 
painters to concern himself scientifically with the reactions of comple- 
mentary colours, for he is said to have made observations on them as early 
as 1825, anticipating the complete exposition of Chevreul. He had quantities 
of little wafers of each colour, with which he tried colour effects. He was 
thus the forerunner of " pointillisme." 

4° The Importance 

means synonymous with the formula. Life is 
the expression of law. Without law there is 
no life. The genius is not he who discovers 
the formula but the law. Whilst the formula 
limits and narrows the field of artistic creation, 
the law enlarges, broadens, throws light upon 
it. The formula is the barrier which closes ; 
the law is the infinite which opens. And the 
infinite is not disorder or chaos, but the geometry 
of ideas wherein the mental compass of genius 
measures the relations of God with the world. 
A theory is good or bad according to the 
source whence it originates. If, for example, 
it emanates from antiquated artists, frozen 
beneath the icy breath of an academic clique, 
then, and only then, it is dead before it is born. 
Thence assuredly nothing ideal or living can 
come ! But if the theory is formed in the name 
of an evolutionary intellectual impulse, in the 
full sunlight of a clear and powerful vision, why 
be suspicious of it and treat it with contempt ? 
The stock phrases habitually used as objections 
to the idealist theory in particular are : " Does 
the nightingale theorise ?" " Has a bird a theory 
with regard to the construction of its nest?" 
" Do bees theorise ? " And in this way puerilities 
are piled up, without it being seen that to 
establish a comparison between the mechanical 
function of the animal and the creative faculty 
of man is utter folly. What should we say of 
a musician who warbled for ever two or three 

of Theory 4 1 

identical notes, although it were under the 
brightest of moons in springtime ? We will not 
press it. But in what way may it be answered ? 
Has the " Treatise on Painting," by De Vinci, 
who laid down theories even with regard to 
technical rules, prevented the works of that 
glorious master from shedding their lustre 
through the ages ? Has theory aged him ? 
No. It makes him grow ever younger, and 
future generations will only bow lower to 
him ! 

A fruitful and expansive theory does not 
pretend to do more than to instil into art 
an evolutionary process, and to offer to the 
artist's comprehension an orientation favourable 
to the development of his latent powers. Theory 
which pretended to give talent or genius to 
those who had it not would be merely foolish. 
Now, idealism, as much as theory, is an orienta- 
tion — an ascending orientation ! 

Plato, whom many read, but few understand, 
has said clearly that the duty of the soul is 
to conceive " The Universal." Now, to conceive 
the universal, it is necessary to understand 
the law, the principle. But the simpleness of 
common philosophy, and the lack of familiarity 
in the modern mind with the terminology of 
metaphysics, has caused many critics and artists, 
confusing the law with the formula or the 
principle with the system, to fall into an 
absurd passion at an imaginary obstacle. 

42 The Importance 

The mark of genius is the knowledge of how 
to find laws and how to apply them to its 
inspirations and whatever it produces. 
Pythagoras must seem terribly dull to those 
who never will understand his theory of 
Numbers, a theory on which mathematics and 
geometry have been built. Was not Wagner, 
that tremendous innovator, a passionate 
theorist ? And so were Goethe and Baudelaire. 
Was there a more learned theorist than Leonardo 
de Vinci ? Does not the anarchist, so particu- 
larly vehement in his denial of everything, 
the ardent foe of every principle, of every law, 
enunciate theories in order to compass the means 
of destruction ? Whether speaking or writing, 
affirmatively or negatively, theories must still 
be advanced ; to deny eclecticism, or to defend 
it, is to continue to theorise. 

In fact, inferior minds are ever scared by 
theory, and this aversion to everything theore- 
tical is one of the sad symptoms of our time. 
It is through this that modern times have, 
unfortunately, become so painfully certain that 
man is powerless to discover the Truth or the 
Absolute, a certainty which produces that 
vague intellectual stupidity, noticed by 
Wronski,* the colossal esoteric mathematician, 
the unrecognised and little known author of 

* Hoene de Wronski in 1811 announced a general method of solving 
all equations, giving formulae without demonstration. In 1817 the Academy 
of Sciences of Lisbon offered a prize for the demonstration of Wronski's 
formulas. It was given for the refutation of them. 

of Theory 43 

" The Reformation of Human Knowledge." In 
the province of contemporary fine art for the 
most part this intellectual stupidity is un- 
deniable. It is owing to it that they have 
come to consider as superfluous Style, Propor- 
tion, Idea, and all that aids in the search of 
ideal beauty. When we think of the Greek 
artists passing through a real initiation, before 
realising works of such imperishable beauty, 
we are right in believing that theory can bring 
about the purification of aesthetics. Compare 
the artists of old with their theories with those 
of the present day who have none ! " Admire 
the beautiful " is a formula of eclecticism which 
is far too vague. The tradesman will fall into 
an ecstasy before the most ridiculous productions 
under the pretence that he admires everything 
beautiful ! The essential thing is to know how 
to discern what is beautiful from what is not, 
in Nature as in the Work. These are the very 
rudiments of aesthetics. They cannot be avoided, 
unless one would remain in a condition of 
mediocrity in which the understanding is 

Between the retina and the spirit there is 
the same difference as there is between looking 
and seeing. Painters like Seurat and Signac,* 

* Both Seurat (d. 1890) and Signac are prominent Impressionists and 
exponents of the " pointilliste " method. The former is said to have been 
the first to carry into practice the systematic decomposition of colour by 
this method, which consists in the intimate juxtaposition of dots of colour. 
With regard to their theory see an article by Signac, " D'Ettgdne Delacroix 
au Neo-Impressionisme." (Revue Blanche, 1898). 

44 The Importance 

in spite of their analytical qualities, will remain 
ineffective. The impressionist creed has proved 
so far that when the painter's eye is disconnected 
from his soul, his spirit, and the Ideal, he will 
only be, however rational his process, a barren 
craftsman and not an artist. The scientific 
painters have forsaken Beauty as much as 
those who paint academically. Both are the 
slaves of method, and remain without inspira- 
tion, without ideal. 

The characteristic of modern schools which 
borrow their theories from pantheistic material- 
ism, is that they only seek the poetry of Things, 
life only being apparent to them through the 
senses or its external aspect, whilst idealism 
tends to perfection by the search and assertion 
of the poetry of Ideas. The idealists affirm 
the power of Life, but, having a fuller con- 
sciousness, they have a deeper, more perfect, 
holier, purer, and more divine conception of 

To be impatient at the spiritualising of art 
is to be wanting in clearness of thought. For 
the lover of art, the artist and the philosopher, 
who can see a little further than their noses, 
the elevation of the Notion can rescue Art 
from the degenerating influence of materialism. 

It is the duty of every initiate, of every real 
lover of art, of every undoubted artist, to work 
for the Salvation of ^Esthetics. " As a first 
condition of this Salvation," says Peladan, 

of Theory 45 

" those who excel in technique must recognise 
the rule of esthetics, and the idealists must be 
infallible in technique ; otherwise they will not 
fulfil their great mission as the saviours of light." 

The duty of present artists will be for the time 
not to give themselves up to false traditions, 
nor too much to the Realism that surrounds 
them, in order that they may reach a point of 
equilibrium with regard to technique, form, 
and idea. 

If masterpieces seem to have an air of relation- 
ship about them it is because the masters knew 
how to subordinate their Personality to the unify- 
ing light of the true Tradition; that is, the whole 
of the great laws of aesthetics. The artist who 
is at the same time possessed of high sensibility 
and high discernment, and goes to Italy, is 
better enabled to understand the influence of 
tradition, which keeps the artist's conception 
in the higher spheres without allowing him to 
descend to the commonplace or to individual 
mediocrity, without his personality suffering 
by its free expansion. There is a dead and a 
living tradition. The dead is that which, anni- 
hilating in the work the creative personal force, 
substitutes for it the uninspired smooth applica- 
tion of school formulae ; the living is that which 
is in eternal accord with the evolution of art 
in general and with the evolution of personality 
in particular, ^schylus, Sophocles, Pheidias, 
Michael Angelo, Raphael, De Vinci, in the same 

46 The Importance 

way as Puvis de Chavannes, Gustave Moreau,* 
Burne-Jones, Watts, f and Wagner are of the 
living tradition ; while Bandinelli, Lebrun, 
Canova, Chenavard, Navez, Bouguereau, 
Gallait,! and so many others, are of the dead. 
The first are the great classics, the second are 
governed by conventions. The great classics 
are those who are greatly inspired ; the con- 
ventional are those whom inspiration has for- 
saken. Among human beings, endowed with 

* Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) (French), endeavoured in every way 
to foster Idealism in Art. He regarded his duties as a professor in the 
" Ecole des Beaux Arts " as a real apostleship. He endeavoured, by 
assimilating the traditions of the past, to create for himself a new tongue 
in which to give utterance to the deepest emotions of the soul. He revived 
old myths and rejuvenated old symbols to represent under their imagery 
the moral struggles of humanity. He bequeathed his house, containing 
about 8,000 of his works, to the State. 

t " He believes in a great priesthood of arts If anyone 

suggested that before a man ventured to paint pictures or to daub with 
plaster he should be initiated with some awful rites in some vast 
and crowded national temple, should swear to work worthily before some 
tremendous altar or over some symbolic flame, Millais would have laughed 
heartily at the idea, and Leighton also. But it would not seem either 
absurd or unreasonable to Watts." — G. K. Chesterton on " Watts." 

t Bandinelli (1487-1595), Florentine School; historical subjects- 
Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), French School; historical ind religious 
subjects. Mme. Lebrun (1755-1842), French School ; portraits, landscape, 
and history. Anotonio Canova (1757-1882), sculptor. A. W. Bouguereau 
(b. 1825), French School ; subjects taken from the antique and invested 
with a certain modern sentimentality. Gallait (1810-1887), Belgian; 
mainly historical subjects of a sentimental character. He was for a long 
time the leader of public taste in Brussels. Theophile Gautier wrote of him : 
" M. Gallait has all the gifts that may be acquired by taste, judgment, and 
determination. His art is that of a man of tact, of a skilled painter happy 
in his dramatic treatment, but superficial." P. J. Chenavard, French School 
(b. 1808), a pupil of Ingres. A typical painter of the conventional school of 
the early part of the nineteenth century. His art was not without elevation 
of thought, but very weak in the rendering of it. He had ideas, but his 
method of expressing them was frigid and uninspired. F. J. Navez (b. 1787), 
Belgian, pupil of David, and painted absurd compositions in the style of 
his master. He was, however, an excellent portrait painter, there being a 
strong analogy between his work and that of Raeburn. 

of Theory 47 

intelligence and will set in motion by their 
ideal forces, there is a fatality which calculates, 
weighs, and measures their thoughts, words, 
and acts. Genius is the individuality in which 
are most perfectly harmonised the Ego and the 
Universal, personality, and tradition. 

The creative intelligence of the artist cannot 
be separated from the ideal world. 


The Mystery of Form 

Art Evolved from Line the Essence of Form — Form the Mystery of the 
Physical World — Cult of Form indicative of High State of Civilisation 
— Aid of Music in Comprehension of Form — Intervention of the Spirit 
necessary for the Comprehension of Beauty — Style should be neither 
Academic nor Anarchical, but in Harmony with the Artist's Soul — 
" The Beautiful is the Ugly " : Misconception with regard to the 
Phrase — Greek Ideals — Need for Initiation — Productions of Genius 
not Spontaneous — Moral Significance of Nudity — It Reveals the true 
sense of Nature — Is the Alpha and Omega of ^Esthetics — Art can be 
regenerated by a study of the Nude — It evokes Humanity and the 
whole Beauty of Life. 

ART began with Design, with Line, and 
Line is the very essence of Form. It 
is important, I think, often to remember 
this at a time like ours when works most lacking 
in form pass as archetypes of schools called 
" Free." j The decadence of Art can be seen 
in the carelessness or incapability of artists 
ignorant of design, and if nowadays the Ugly 
has taken the place of the Beautiful in the arts, 
it is, we may be certain, because the abstract 
and vital sense of Form has been lost. Is not 
Line the basis of all Architecture, of all Sculp- 
ture ? In the works of Nature Line is the 
signature of God. Line, let us never forget, is 
the symbolical expression of the mysterious 
relations which exist between Spirit and 
Matter. Line or Form is the mystery of the 
physical world, the mystery of Art, the mystery 
of Beauty. It is only when civilisations reach 
the maturity of their intellectual power that 

t The " Societe Libre " was founded in 1868, the " Libre Esthetique," 
a continuation of the Twenty Club, in 1894. 

l'homme dieu (j. delville). 

[To face page 49. 

The Mystery of Form 49 

the cult of Form is developed and spread, 
because the comprehension of Form always 
necessitates in a people, if not a complete 
education, a high state of mental development. 
A great and sublime mystery links the Idea 

with the Form. 

It may be said that if music, considered as 
social magnetism, helps towards solidarity of 
life in rising civilisations, as well as in their 
intellectual refinement, it is still nothing more 
than a marvellous means of preparing the race, 
the people, for an aesthetic comprehension of 
Form. Music is the method of expression which 
best corresponds to the unconscious sensibility 
of the crowd, but Form, less vague and further 
separated from the inferior condition where the 
impression is received through the nerves, will 
ever remain in a select sphere corresponding 
best with the clear perceptions of the few.* 
The great Goethe has said : " The soul conveys 
into a design a portion of its essential being, and 
the most profound secrets of creation are precisely 
those which, with regard to its basis, rest upon 
design and form." And has not Goethe also 
said that design is " the most moral of things 
requiring skill?" If I recall the fine phrase 
of that sublime spirit it is in order that the 
capital importance which men of the greatest 

* With regard to the subject of Music, see Pater's Essay on Giorgione 
written on the text that " all art constantly aspires to the condition of 
music." Design may be compared with music when form and colour are 
combined in arbitrary decoration. 

50 The Mystery 

genius attach to the plastic arts may be under- 
stood, and it proves that if the plastic arts 
do not instantaneously act upon the crowd, 
it is because the crowd, devoid of consciousness 
and culture, is psychologically incapable of 
raising itself sufficiently to comprehend what 
is difficult. It is obvious that Architecture, 
Sculpture, and Painting, the three arts which 
express Form in its different aesthetic aspects, 
and from which emanate such a wealth of 
idealism that they always necessitate the 
immediate intervention of the spirit in order 
to be understood, ought to cause the soul of 
the artist to be elated. The grandeur of their 
calling ought especially also to make them 
appreciate how necessary it is that they should 
have a lofty conception of their mission, what 
strength they should put into their studies, 
extending them even to Science and Philosophy, 
so as not to stoop to the compromises which 
mark the decadence by which modern art is 
being overwhelmed. 

The great error of the academic schools, 
whence came such painters as Chenavard, 
David,* and Lebrun, was in imposing a style 
which was invariable and fitted to every condi- 
tion of plastic art to the detriment of individual 

* Jacques Louis David (Freuch, 1748-1825) was the leader of the 
French Classical School. He used to say : " I wish that my works may 
have so completely an antique character that if it were possible for an 
Athenian to return to life they might appear to him to be the production 
of a Greek painter." It has been said of his works that they are " coloured 

of Form 5 1 

genius. Certainly a work without style is yet 
a work on the border of realisation, but when 
it is in a certain style (stylee), it should be so 
in accordance with the personal condition of 
the soul and spirit, and with the peculiar 
character of the conception itself. Style is 
then elevated to something that idealises — 
the most difficult mode of aesthetic expression 
to realise, but the most noble. Many dabblers 
in Art have been influenced to such an extent 
by conventional faulty ideas, and have become 
such advocates of amorphism and lack of 
form, as to declare style a thing to be despised 
and old-fashioned, crying in every tone that Art 
should be anarchical, without science, principles, 
or rules, and that, after all, the first attempts 
that were made, whether in painting or sculpture 
however formless or ugly, were as much art 
as La Samothrace,*- the Ilissus, or the Saint 
Anne ! Realism and impressionism shouted 
victory, because the leaders of these baneful 
schools threw wide the doors of the Sanctuary 
to give admittance to the barbarians of the 
brush and chisel. It became the home of the 
incapable and inferior, of vagabonds and 
mountebanks, and such as, profiting by the 
opportunity, adapted to it their pushing and 
avaricious natures. 

• The well-known Nike, or statue of Victory, from Samothrace in the 
Louvre. A wonderful study of a figure in rapid motion The head and arms 
and part of the wings are now wanting. It was set up by Demetrius 
Poliorketes, b.c. 306. 

52 The Mystery 

The Beautiful is the Ugly ! This foolishness 
has triumphed over Art. It has led to a false 
view of aesthetics, the misdirection of talents, 
and the corruption of the understanding. Since 
it has come into fashion we have seen the 
modern studios producing all the most dis- 
heartening and repulsive work that the errors 
of a decaying art give birth to. The artist, in 
order to conform to the instinct of his age, has 
had to seek the accidents of Nature, in order to 
free himself from " old formulae ' and seem 
original in the eyes of the multitude, which is 
as foolish as it is full of admiration, and to 
this moment as convinced as the artist that 
the beautiful is the ugly ! Taine, a clear and 
keen-sighted critic, has cried in vain : " True, 
the ugly is beautiful, but the beautiful is much 
more beautiful I " He was too clear and too 
simple. One of the ancients could not have 
expressed himself better, with more justice 
and irony. Parnassus rather has been blown 
up, and from the debris of the sacred mountain 
they have set themselves to hew grotesque 

O Athens, if thou couldst see in what depths 
the artists of the present age have caused the 
Sacred Form to wallow, of which thou wert 
the sublime parent, and ye, mountains of 
marble, who wait till ye are quarried to serve 
some time or other as materia), for works 
revolting in their baseness and ugliness, ye 

of Form 53 

would tremble with shame and anger under 
the Hellenic glory of your bright azure skies ! 

O Greece, radiant with thine ideals, who 
couldst combine perfection of body with calm 
understanding, render divine the joyous and 
harmonious beauty of youth, and perceive 
through the splendour of form the mystery of 
rhythm and abstruse meaning of gesture, 
who didst know how to regulate Life and the 
Ideal, weigh Spirit and Matter, make repose 
god-like and movement sublime, who couldst 
balance in such proportions all parts of the 
human form, from head to toe, and made man 
" strong as a soldier of Pericles, and fair as a 
disciple of Plato " ; thou, O Greece, towards 
whom genius in ecstacy turns its gaze, if thou 
couldst behold the terrible phantasmagoria of 
our unbridled exponents of art, thou wouldst 
believe that we had returned to a state of 
primitive barbarism and consider that Art in 
this world had come to an end ! 

In an age characterised by a harmony 
between the occult sciences and the arts, 
ancient Greece formed the aesthetic conception 
of the ideal man. A divine perfection of the 
human form was attained. That genius for 
beauty was the result of the teaching revealed 
by the esoteric doctrine of the temples, when 
the Magi initiated artists into the Mysteries. 
The Magi knew that the influence on society 
of Beauty, which is a real element of happiness 

54 The Mystery 

and virtue, consists in elevating the soul of the 
multitude by awaking in it an eternal sense of 
harmony. The happiest peoples have the most 
beautiful art. Goethe was right to say of the 
Greeks that they had made of life a most 
beautiful dream. It was through their power of 
vision that the veil before the Unseen fell aside 
before the young artists, philosophers, and 
poets. And then they could see in the fluid 
and transparent splendour of the Universal 
Soul the archetypal forms of the pure Idea 
evolving and the living perfect images of the 
Spirit. The world of spirit and intelligence, 
where the beings of Love and Light lead an 
existence truly divine, was revealed to them. 

And from that supreme contemplation of the 
invisible and immortal life the artist seers 
returned dazzled and illuminated for ever. 
In their serene and ineffaceable ecstacy they 
had received the great secret of Beauty. 

Pheidias possessed that secret ; he, too, had 
seen into the Light of Form, that pure and 
subtle element of the essence of Life, that 
inexhaustible Well of ideas and forms. And 
with this reflection of the Divine in the angelic 
intelligence of the Eternal Masculine and Eternal 
Feminine he infused beauty into his sublime 
marvels, as Pericles by its means shed splendour 
on the State and Sophocles on the Theatre. 

It was thus, through the vision of the initiate 
into the living realms of Immortality, the bright 

of Form 55 

regions of glorified spirits where the real being 
becomes apparent, freed from the many 
impurities of the physical body, that material 
image of moral ugliness and psychic imper- 
fection, thus, I say, that Plato discovered the 
wonderful formula of the aesthetic creed : 
" Beauty is the splendour of Truth." 

It is thus that everyone who has been 
inspired, every genius, and all those who have 
received initiation, have proved that Nature 
is not truly such as it appears at the first 
glance ; that it is so only in its most objective, 
most imperfect, aspect, and that when con- 
sidered from a material point of view it is 
debased, in the sense that it is the negative 
pole of the universal Spirit. For physical 
Nature is the most obscure term of the involu- 
tion of Spirit, and the harmonies of matter, 
on which are founded the physical laws, are 
only confusing illusions compared with the 
more perfect harmonies of the Spirit. 

We must not look upon the Venus of Milo 
as a spontaneous creation, the result of fancy, 
any more than the lyre of Orpheus, which is 
the musical adaptation of the sacred Septenary 
taught by the Egyptian priests. The ages of 
strength and beauty are at the same time 
those of Intelligence and Wisdom. 

The divine perfection of Form in ancient 
Greece ought to make us observe more clearly 
that in the works nowadays which are based on 

56 The Mystery 

nature all that is of importance is the problem 
of primordial forms and the divine genesis of 
infinite perfection. 

They knew, those old sages, that Beauty is 
eternal, imperishable, and that it is the agency 
by which the light of the ideal is transmitted 
to human beings, and which, by the ugliness 
of vice or evil, they continually obscure. And 
that is why they suffered the sublime reflection 
of the divine principle to glow through the 
human form. Through their secret learning 
they knew that the law of beauty and form 
is the soul which, by a rational process, and 
in proportion to its stage of evolution, creates 
the bodily form which manifests it. 

The creative forces of nature, like the creative 
forces of the spirit, tend directly to Beauty. 
The imperfections of the individual alone 
contrive continually to lead astray and corrupt 
the normal evolution of these creative forces 
in their universal striving towards Beauty. 

The nude alone brings us face to face with 
the enigma of life. Real nudity in a work 
of art inculcates also a teaching of high morality. 
What does it matter if, as its adversaries 
prudishly declare, it does not conform to 
the social conventions of modern daily life ! 
The nude will not the less remain one of the 
purest mediums of Beauty, and great artists 
will not the less perceive its ideal and positive 

of Form 57 

It is childish to think that trousers, aprons, 
blouses, shoes, and dresses are fit subjects for 
art and capable of elevating the soul. Clothes 
generally, and modern clothes in particular, 
merely show the ceaseless insane caprices of 
fashion, changing from day to day, incongruous, 
grotesque, ridiculous, since clothes have become 
the enemy of the natural shape of the human 
body, instead of being a covering which should 
preserve its harmony and rhythm. 

It is by the nude alone that the artist can 
express the essential character of life, the 
impersonal ideas, universal beliefs, and general 
sentiments of humanity. The nude, I must 
repeat, reveals the true sense of nature. And 
nature has never been so reverenced and 
studied as in the art of Greece. It appears there 
in its double manifestation of the real and ideal, 
in the reality of its ideal character. In it we 
ever observe the clearly defined tendency of 
harmony, style, and proportion to meet, through 
the constant stud}/ and aesthetic observation 
of nature, in an ideal type, which does not 
mean a settled type (type convenu), as is too 
often wrongly supposed. Artists in those days 
studied the natural and spiritual laws of Beauty 
as now we study the laws of the so-called exact 

To them art was not a conventional and 
systematic rule, but the reason of aesthetics 
consisted, in their eyes, in the positive and 

58 The Mystery 

abstract study of Beauty, that force at once 
natural and ideal, and which, whatever sceptics 
think, is one of the great problems of spirit. 

The human body is the noblest ornament. 
The nude is the alpha and omega of aesthetics. 
All the science possessed by the artist is 
summarized in it. It is fitted to express the most 
subtle and most profound emotions of the soul. 

It is furthermore by the study of the nude 
that the fine arts when falling into decay 
are regenerated. The great revivals of art, 
in fact, are due to the study of the nude. Without 
the least wishing to depreciate the value of the 
Byzantine and Gothic periods, whose symbols 
of expression were based upon the religious 
theme of good and evil, and whose sombre 
splendour was well calculated to arouse emotion, 
it may be said that they had lost the sense of 
the harmony of Beauty, because they rejected 
the nude. Certainly Cimabue, Giotto, Orcagna, 
and, above all, the gentle visionary Fra Angelico, 
remain great in their Christian mysticism, but 
they did not comprehend — they could not do 
so, dominated as they were by the Spirit of 
the time — that bodily beauty is not incom- 
patible with that of the soul. It is only with 
Botticelli, Leonardo de Vinci, and Michael 
Angelo, that is, with the renewed study of form, 
that the nude reappeared in its great plastic 
and spiritual significance, and the Renaissance 
was developed in the full glory of its idealism. 

of Form 59 

The nude has the high quality of being 
synthetic, universal. Its representation evokes 
the unity of beings ; that is to say, all earthly 
souls are united and form a living being. 
The nude can, therefore, drive from the heart 
the crowd of ideas of social and psychic harmony, 
destroying thus the instinct for separation and 
differentiation which divides men. By evoking 
Man it evokes Humanity, and the whole beauty 
of Life, not life as we moderns understand it, 
so neurotic, feverish, and filled with unhealthy 
excitement, but the great universal life, which 
makes fruitful the spirit and the earth, makes 
both the stars and the soul glow with light, 
causes space to vibrate, which palpitates in 
the substance as in the essence, which rules 
and moves the universe, beings, and things, 
mortals or immortals, in the infinite rhythm 
and mystery of Eternity, the divine macrocosm 
and human microcosm, from which the universal 
Beauty is ever shed and reflected, woven of 
Love, Wisdom, and Light. 

And when the artist has become conscious 
of this Beauty, when it has appeared to him in 
its unfading and divine splendour, he will 
understand its mission. He will learn, in fact, 
that this beauty which he seeks in the body, in 
forms, is the same as that which is manifested 
in sentiments and ideas, and that his duty as an 
artist will be to make it glow in its purest 
form, as the spark is struck from an unseen 

60 The Mystery of Form 

pebble, through the degradation and grossness 
in which it has been imprisoned. And then 
upon a mass of imperfections, realisms, and 
short-lived ugliness, he will build a purer art. 
He will save art from the frenzy of anarchy 
and the petrification of academies. He will be 
of those who return to the point — the point 
of equilibruim ! — in the name of indestructible 
and radiant Beauty, which the foolish and 
incapable have grievously profaned, in the 
name, goodness knows, of what wretched 
instinct or antiquated convention. For the 
artist who is not conscious of a divine force 
making his human powers fruitful with Beauty, 
and who, in the depth of his being, does not 
perceive the God of Love and Harmony move 
in the breath which sways worlds and men, 
is unworthy to belong to civilisation. His 
works will be abortions. His talent, if he has 
any, will be wasted. 


The Spiritualising of Art 

Signs of a New Age — The Science of the Ideal — The Spiritualising of 
Science and Art — Disregard of Form in Modern Art — Realism based 
on a Philosophic Error — Distinction between the Dreamer and the 
Idealist — Music in Beauty of Form — Need for Spirituality in the 
Artist — Art cannot result from sensation alone — Comprehension 
" the Reflex of Creation " — The Beautiful in Art superior to the Beau- 
tiful in Nature — The Individual Ideal leads up to the ideal — The 
Artist an Alchemist when inspired by the Spirit — The Beautiful is 
not one Form, but a harmony of Forms — It is Truth made manifest 
in the Form by the Idea — The duty of the Artist to reveal Beauty to 
Mankind — Art a Divine Force. 


ET the modern artist not forget that a 
new age is beginning, that the Idea is 
returning to the earth, and that a purer, 
fairer, race is about to inhabit the world ! 

Day by day the end of materialism is being 
achieved. Science is forcibly being evolved 
and transformed before the revelations of the 
other world. The psychic sciences are arrayed 
against the physical sciences, and set the occult 
proof against that of materialism. The occult 
sciences, the lofty teaching of theosophy, and 
experimental spiritualism, are setting out to 
conquer the future and, on the threshold of a 
new age, are about to establish the Science of 
the Ideal ; that is, the synthesis of science, 
religion, and philosophy. 

Above the overthrow of materialism, so 
fatally crushing to the soul and spirit, already 
soars, in the redeeming light, the mysterious 
transformation of thought. If truth, scientifi- 
cally, is the harmony of facts, then spiritual 

62 The Spiritualising 

facts, proving the Immortality of the Soul, 
fall into harmony spontaneously to form truth, 
which already rises to confront negation. 

With this spiritualising of Science, there 
goes on, side by side with it, the spiritualising 
of Art. Just as materialism is a monstrous 
abortion of modern philosophy, so realism, 
its poisonous outcome, is in aesthetics an actual 
anomaly, a case of flagrant degeneration in 
the fine arts. We may seek in vain for an 
extenuating circumstance which would excuse 
the schools of realism or naturalism by con- 
sidering them as an inevitable and healthy 
reaction against the slavishness of the conven- 
tional school, the old-fashioned dealer in recipes 
and " poncifs." There can never be any excuse 
for ugliness, whatever be the school that praises 
or produces it. Ugliness cannot be the object 
of the fine arts. 

Nowhere in the history of the epochs of art, 
that is, in those of civilisation, can one find 
such a sheer fall into the shallows of the trivial 
and commonplace as that brought about by the 
contemporary school of realism. 

If the better work of a few great spirits 
had not been able to resist the many evils of 
its corrupted state, it might be said, without 
fearing to exaggerate too much, that Art to-day 
seemed to have quitted the sphere of Form. 

They have replaced creative genius by 
sculptors without ability to conceive, soulless, 

of Art 63 

without the power of abstraction, often even 
without intelligence, who make sculpture riot 
in marble and bronze in every species of debased 
Form, either taking a cast from nature, or feebly 
and foolishly making a rough suggestion of it 
— a kind of wild nightmare in plaster. 

One will stupidly endeavour to reproduce 
the superficial imperfections of the skin, while 
another tries to give his sculpture the shapeless 
appearance of kneaded mud. 

With respect to those painters, without 
idealism, and without idea, whose whole art 
is contained in a tube of colour, and whose 
complete lack of sense is barely concealed by 
the clever trickery of touch, who only look in 
a work of art for the reproduction of object 
for object, and thing for thing, their eyes only 
observe the phenomena of atmosphere. They 
are tubes of colour which are emptied mechani- 
cally on the canvas. 

These colourists, lacking the conception of 
form and the perception of the ideal image, 
have brought about a reaction in art. Their 
painting rests upon their digestion, and their 
consideration of colour only rests upon the 
part played by the eye, indifferent as they are 
to everything appertaining to the spirit. The 
nude, when, with sensual brush, they profane 
it, becomes fleshly. Beneath their eyes and 
fingers, animalism is transfused into every- 
thing. These are the traders in " bits." Neither 

64 The Spiritualising 

kind seek for Beauty, but only for things 
material, whether they be misshapen, common- 
place, or vulgar. Taking it as a whole, the 
realist and impressionist period will be held 
as that which pauperised and prostituted the 
fine arts. 

Since Proudhon,* a celebrated sociologist, 
but as commonplace in his views on art as he 
is mistaken in his philosophy, and who 
formulates a gross error in a piece of stupid 
sophistry : " Since all things are equal, there 
is nothing ugly!" artists and critics have 
considered the back of a nude female to be 
equal in beauty to De Vinci's " Head of Saint 

Realism, the very negation of art, springs 
from a philosophic mistake confusing Life 
with Substance. It perishes when that error 
is swept away. But new artists have arisen, 
to renovate philosophy and art by means of 
idealism. These men know that the spirit 
descends into form, form into matter, and that 
without form matter expresses nothingness ; 
that is, something which has no reality. They 
know, in accordance with truth, that matter 
is the extreme limit to which the spirit of 
Beauty can be reflected, and that it is in 
physical substance that it appears to our eyes 
under its most shadowy and elusive aspect. 

* Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), French writer on Socialism 
and leader of opinion in the Revolution of 1848. Author of the famous 
paradox, " La Propriety, c'est le vol." 





of Art 65 

This idealist conception of art, in order to 
avoid confusion, can be made still more precise. 
Art, contrary to the simple notion of some 
people, does not waver between the real and 
" the dream," but between the real and the 
ideal. The difference which lies between " the 
dream " and the ideal may perhaps be expressed 
thus : " The dream is the unconscious and 
instinctive feeling of confused aspirations ; the 
ideal is the ordered aspiration of the harmonious 

Art, then, is neither the slave of the real 
or ' the dream." Art is that balancing force 
which brings the rational into harmony with 
the spiritual, emotion with reason, and the 
natural with the supernatural. Nature is 
a medley of enchantment and terror, of 
ecstasy and awe. The monstrous is mingled 
with the divine. It is an astounding chaos of 
hidden glories. 

Man is the Genius, the conscious and recep- 
tive intelligence of mental, spiritual vibrations, 
who from material elements will extract the 
pure essence, the typical form, the initial idea. 
In the same way as the musician of genius 
translates the harmonies of invisible space 
into natural sounds, the painter, the sculptor, 
can translate the harmony of typical forms 
which are in the invisible plastic light, living 
prisms of divine beauties, in which are refracted 
the splendours of the universal soul. 

66 The Spiritualising 

Do we know, indeed, whether the Harmony 
of Form does not correspond to, or is not 
actually, musical vibration rendered objec- 
tive ? * Music is to be found in beauty of 
form as mathematics in clearness of thought. 

But before the sublime faculty of inner sight 
is attained, before the power of making the 
material spiritual is gained, the artist must 
become spiritual himself. Then will inspiration 
alone consist in making the idea enter into the 
form, and realisation in giving form to the idea. 

One does not become an idealist by the study 
or imitation of the art of bygone masters, but 
by idealising, spiritualising, one's psychic being. 

Before understanding or attaining to the 
purification of form, the artist ought to endea- 
vour to purify his soul. The beauty of a work 
does not depend merely on objective talent or 
technical gift, but also on the psychic beauty 
which emanates from its creator. An impure 
soul, a base and evil heart, a perverted intellect, 
a narrow mind, cannot belong to such as 
Pheidias, Angelico, De Vinci, Michael Angelo, 
Beethoven, Bach, or Wagner, since Beauty 
is the divine aspect of the human Soul, and 
the human Soul is God within God. 

Art is the memory of the divinity within 
Man. The work rises to perfection when the 
will, that divine energy of thought, gains the 

* Science has proved that waves of sound affect material objects, 
so as to give rise to infinite variety of form. 

of Art 67 

victory over the lower nature which is guided 
by instinct. The artist's calling, so degraded 
now by the selfish and eager desire to satisfy 
personal vanity, could be raised even to the 
rank of apostleship if artists were fully conscious 
of the grandeur of Art. 

Let us never forget, if we wish to avoid a 
common mistake, that Sensation of itself can 
never conceive a work of true art. Sensation 
is not creative thought. The poetry of images, 
the sense of forms and colours, the life of 
things, in short, are found in Spirit, but not in 
what is properly called Sensation. The vital 
vibration of Sensation acts evidently on intel- 
lectual or psychic centres, but the result of 
that sensation will ever be in proportion to 
the capacity and power of our ideality. Two 
persons of equal nervous sensibility, but differing 
in their spiritual nature, if brought before the 
same impressive sight, will not express their 
sensations with the same degree of power. 

Without spirit nature does not exist for 
man. As looking does not mean seeing, so 
feeling does not mean comprehension. 

Now, comprehension, as someone has loftily 
expressed it, " is the reflex of creation." 

It is the sum of our ideal conceptions which 
enables nature to be felt or expressed with more 
or less power. 

If in the creation of a work it were Sensation 
that alone could perceive and judge as well 

68 The Spiritualising 

as the sight (which is false, on another ground, 
since it is not the organ that approves or 
passes judgment), what should we think of 
Beethoven, who lost the sense of hearing, the 
very organ of musical sensation, and to whom 
the world of sound was henceforth closed ? 
But we know that, starting from the moment 
of his deafness, the musical genius of Beethoven 
grew and developed with an extraordinary 
intensity. He composed the ninth symphony, 
his most complex work both with regard to 
its orchestration and conception ! 

Let the physiologist who believes in automatic 
action reply ! He cannot. 

But those who understand the mysteries of 
psychic man know that what constituted the 
potential ideal of the musician, in short his real 
inner being, did not need the physical sensation 
of music for the purpose of expression or 
creation in the conditions in which it was 

We are not, it will be observed, endeavouring 
to prove the uselessness of Sensation, but to 
show that Sensation, instead of being the 
beginning and end of a work of art, is only a 
means towards it. 

The Beautiful in Art, compared with the 
beautiful in nature, is superior to it. Art and 
Imitation are as wide apart as the poles. 
One of the fundamental characteristics of Art 
is that it is the manifestation of mental emotion. 

of Art 69 

The language of Imitation is the language of 
servitude. Art belongs essentially to the 
power of expression, and not to that of imita- 
tion or impression. By this we do not mean 
to say that the artist should withhold himself 
from the contemplation and study of Nature, 
which affords art the profusion of its materials ! 

The artist seeks and finds throughout nature 
the universal potentialities of the creative 
essence. Every true artist should have his own 
personal ideal, but he must never be unmindful, 
unless he would stultify himself, that above 
his ideal is enthroned the ideal, more perfect 
and more absolute than his own, towarde 
which he ever moves, as he adapts the creativs 
effort of his own personality to its laws. The 
great artists are those who have a logical 
intuition of these laws. They do not despise 
theories when they are logical ; they make 
use of them. But the inferior artist is the slave 
of theory. 

A work ought naturally to be the fruit of 
many sensations, many impressions, many 
thoughts, but all these elements are to be 
co-ordinated, regulated by a superior force, 
by a law or theory derived from that law, 
otherwise the work will be artificial, confused, 
and perishable. Yes, all things serve as material 
for great work, provided that the Spirit is there 
which governs and co-ordinates all things. 
The artist is a kind of alchemist. Art is a 

70 The Spiritualising 

species of occult chemistry. Lead can be 
turned into gold, but the laws which bring about 
this wonderful transmutation must be under- 
stood. Just as the magician by the radiation 
of his will brings under his sway the wanderings 
and formless forces of astral space, so the artist, 
guided by his genius, brings into order the 
imperfect images of life by infusing into them 
the system of his thought. 

The Beautiful, a Platonic mystic has said, 
is not one special form, but the harmony of forms. 

Between the creative wisdom of nature and 
the form created by nature there is a vast 

The Beautiful, considered in its ideal sense, 
is not an illusion. Beauty is Truth made 
manifest in the Form by the Idea. When 
the artist draws beauty from ugliness, purity 
from impurity, perfection from imperfection, 
order from disorder, he reveals Truth, the 
Divine, to humanity. The Beautiful, the True, 
the Good agree one with the other. 

The glory of Art is to know how to make 
the eyes of profane humanity perceive these 
three sublime harmonies. The ordinary man, 
we must repeat, by himself only observes 
what is immediately perceptible through his 
senses. He, therefore, sees Nature under her 
ugliest aspect. It is the mission of Art to make 
him perceive the Beauty that lies behind things. 
And this Beauty is not a fiction ; it exists, 

of Art 71 

it is real. It is not an illusion, but an essential 
and invisible reality which escapes the superficial 
glance of the crowd. 

Let the artist and poet, whom a regrettable 
misunderstanding keeps aloof from the soul 
of mankind, which happily is intuitive and 
devoid of prejudice, communicate to it the 
ideal, the divine sense, of this Beauty, in order 
that it should likewise turn from the Universal 
Ugliness, of which it is the unconscious and 
pardonable abettor ! And for that communion 
to take place there is no need to specially 
produce a " social art," than it is necessary 
to create a " select art ' (art d'elite). Art 
must not be the slave of doctrinal speculation, 
or descend to the level and inclinations of a 
particular class. Art must have a universal 
meaning. The artist is he who, through the 
thousand forms of universal life, seeks out the 
supreme expression of Beauty for those who, 
whether poor or wealthy, know how to perceive 
and understand it in his work. 

In the heart of every individual slumbers 
an artist, a poet, which we must know how to 
awaken. A spring of beauty and wisdom is 
ever ready to rise up from the depths of his 
being. Man is never absolutely incomplete. 
If his dormant faculties often prevent him from 
opening the eyes of his soul to the artistic 
raptures of the world and art, it is the kindly 
duty of the artist, the chosen person in whose 

72 The Spiritualising 

soul beauty is ever alive, to open them and pass 
before them pure ideas under harmonious 

The simple man is nearer to beauty than 
he thinks. But if light, sound, colour, form, 
and idea are not understood by him in their 
harmonious sense, and natural and ideal 
relation, the sentiment of unity, the life of all 
beauty, escapes him. 

Now, it is by means of Art that the aesthetic 
perceptions are developed. And human beings 
are not made artistic by the conventional 
Academic school, which only sees in the work 
the object of an artificial arrangement of the 
figure, its subjects being posturers, nor by the 
Realist-Impressionist school, which considers 
that work should be devoted to the imitation 
of nature. One shows us body without soul, 
the other things without idea. 

The art of the idealist creates things of beauty 
which are possible, and whose inner life radiates 
from their action, form, and colour. 

The idealist conception alone, emanating from 
the artist free to create a world of beauty 
moulded to his ideal, thought, and emotion, 
can communicate to mankind, by making it 
capable of perceiving it, that divine power 
which binds together things, souls, and spirits 
of the visible and invisible world, and enables 
it to perceive the creative Wisdom, which is 
the Ideal. 

of Art 73 

Art is by no means a vain whim of man, 
due to the accident of selfish pride. Art is 
one of the great forces that God has implanted 
in the creature. It is our imperfections, our 
instincts, our want of light, which too often, 
alas, degrade Art to our own level, our own 
ugliness, errors, and darkness. 

Without any wish to be identified with 
Tolstoi's creed of art, so poor and uncouth in 
too many ways, I am bound to admire and 
approve of this noble phrase of the venerable 
apostle of Russia : " Art is not an enjoyment, 
a pleasure, an amusement : art is a mighty 
thing. It is a vital organ of humanity which 
conveys the conceptions of reason into the domain 
of sentiment." 


The Art of the Future 

Struggle between Spiritualism and Materialism — Future of Art dependent 
on that of Science, Religion, and Philosophy — Art will cease to be 
" National " — Influence of Idealism on Modern Thought — Art con- 
secrated by Metaphysics — Reconciliation between Science and 
Religion — The Mission of Art to cause what is Comprehensible to be 
Perceived — Influence of Art on Society — Art apparently doomed by 
Modern Positivism — The Course of Art parallel to that of Science — 
The Artist should show that his Work results from a High Ideal — 
The Art of the Future will be based on the Triple Formula of Idealism 
— Impressionism lacking in real ^Esthetic Emotion — Need of a clearly 
denned view of ^Esthetics — The Art of the Future will be that of 
Universal Love and Brotherhood — Art is intended to purify Mankind. 

WHAT an enthralling problem, how con- 
ducive to thought and able to stimulate 
the artistic intellect, is the endeavour 
to learn what Art will be to-morrow, what its 
ruling influence will be, and from what unknown 
springs it will draw the magic life of future 
visions ! Many critics, such as think, philo- 
sophers, and lovers of art, uneasy about the 
future, and not perceiving any regular solution, 
have been, and still are, haunted by the dis- 
quieting wish to know the destiny of Art, or 
at least to conceive a logical view^of its process 
of evolution. 

Owing to its spiritual essence Art is seen 
to be so closely joined to the psychic condition 
of mankind that it is necessary to begin with 
studying and understanding throughout its 
evolutionary growth the mysterious motive 
power of ideas, and to determine the degrees 
in which ideas are projected into the intellectual 
jealms of our times. Now the age in which we 

The Art of the Future 75 

live, which will shortly upon the dial of the 
revolving centuries mark the hour of a universal 
redemption in the province of thought, is 
hampered by two mighty currents of hostile 
mode of thought, Materialism and Spiritualism, 
both of which impetuously roll their waves 
towards the future ocean of the Human Spirit, 
in which each assumes that it will be the 
positive element of truth. 

Which of these forces will overcome the other 
in its triumphant struggle ? 

Before we can know what the Art of to-morrow 
will be, we must ascertain what Science, Re- 
ligion, and Philosophy will be in the future. 
The revival of civilisations is in reality a 
problem the solution of which is to be found 
in the occult or supernatural depths of existence. 
The present troubled period which precedes 
the advent of the Spirit in this world, whose 
reign will transform the human soul by directing 
its vital and intellectual forces towards clearer 
perceptions, is characteristic. 

Just as nations will sweep away their natural 
boundaries, and all moral and intellectual 
barriers, so art will break free from nationality. 
Art must not flourish merely as an ornamental 
adjunct to one centre. If certain schools show 
that they depend on natural surroundings and 
a science of nature restricted and peculiar to 
themselves, is there any reason to think that 
the artist cannot and ought not to see and feel 

76 The Art of 

otherwise than through the eyes and senses 
of his fellow-countrymen as a body ? The 
painters who lack vision must inevitably depend 
on one sky, one earth, one climate, one atmos- 
phere, one type. They represent, indeed, what is 
called " national " art. And for the evolution 
of personal talent I know nothing worse than 
this narrow feeling of nationality. For the 
theory of environment (theorie du milieu) 
advocated by official art patronage has become 
a political principle, which requires the national 
stamp, as in matters of buying and selling. Its 
advocates and such as desire " nationalism ' 
in art fear too much a loss of originality, as 
though real originality did not essentially dwell 
in the creative personality of the artist, in the 
ideal individual quality ! 

Great artists and all great men, for the most 
part, instead of being bound by the prejudices 
and limitations of the environment in which 
they may be placed, prove superior to it, 
separating themselves from it, and passing be- 
yond it in the full display of their emancipated 
personality, give free scope to the aspirations 
of an ideal more in harmony with the dreams 
of all mankind. 

In the act of creation, the man, the artist, 
the thinker, ought to vibrate in sympathy with 
and on behalf of humanity, and not according 
to the mode of thought of the place in which 
he happens to be. 

the Future 77 

What is termed " national genius " or " generic 
genius " (genie de l'espece) is too often only 
the lamentable affection that a race exhibits 
towards its instincts. The underlying spirit 
of the race has sufficient power in itself, without 
needing to magnify drawbacks and build 
principles upon them. What is the relative 
worth of native environment compared with 
infinity of soul ? Did Holland give Rembrandt 
his magic vision ? Did Germany create Wagner's 
"Parsifal"? And if the sky, the soil, the climate, 
gave birth to the art of Pheidias, Michael 
Angelo and De Vinci, how is it that Greece and 
Italy, whose sky and soil, atmosphere and climate, 
have not changed, do not produce works of equal 
value ? Art belongs rather to the realm of 
ideas than to physical divisions of the Earth. 

Those who are accustomed to watch with 
spiritual eyes the events of the world see that 
a Spiritual Force of a providential kind now 
soars above the plane of human intellect, and 
that its occult beams pierce the troubled depths 
of men's hearts, penetrating them with a faint 
but salutary light. 

Yes, we bear within us, in the dark depths 
of our conscience, the supernatural germs of 
a new humanity which will have grasped the 
mystery of life or its immediate relations to 
the Other World. 

For the truths of idealism, there is no reason 
to disguise it, have begun to conquer the world 

78 The Art of 

of modern thought with a methodical and 
positive sureness, which nothing can resist, 
since it is the bright sign of the true evolution 
through the Spirit, the mediating power which 
must readjust the balance between the past, 
present, and future. 

Art, which has hitherto been hampered by 
the contrary methods in which materialism 
gives it encouragement, kept in the lower 
sphere of a degraded spiritual state and within 
national boundaries, Art will assume propor- 
tions of which few have little suspicion ! 

Art has received the consecration of Meta- 
physics. It already bears within it the new life : 
the renaissance of the Ideal. This will be its 

It is necessary to state precisely the particular 
redeeming character of the present movement 
of idealism in art and of Idealism generally. 
It is necessary to clearly and concisely explain 
the civilising mission of Art, the destiny of light 
which guides the artist and summarises, by 
the very nature of its glow, the ideal world 
which humanity bears in its heart. It is likewise 
necessary to remark on the moral effect which 
a work of art produces upon people, upon the 
crowd, the moral influence of Art, more con- 
ducive of health and peace than that of Politics. 

Reason and Understanding will reign in 
every sphere. Passions and sentiments will be 
synthetically balanced. Rationalism, shorn of its 

the Future 79 

strength, will be definitely overthrown by the 
triumph of Science, conscious of mysteries 
revealed, but as yet unintelligible and unfamiliar. 

Science and Religion ought to be reconciled, 
to be the complements of one another and 
remain indissoluble. This reconciliation must 
necessarily take place. It will be the supreme 
action of the rule of the Spirit. The absurd 
and harmful antagonism between Science and 
Religion. has already begun to grow weaker. 

Man does not know anything of himself. 
The powers or forces which constitute his 
individuality have not been created by him ; 
but he can, by the purifying influence of his 
will or subservience to his passions, either 
strengthen or destroy these forces. 

The man of genius, he who is essentially 
creative, is inspired. A higher power, an 
occult force, act in and through him. 

Now the same law takes effect in the universal 
as in the individual. We have tried to indicate 
this law in order that the sceptical reader may, by 
means of his logical intuition, understand the pos- 
sibility of mystery or the action of the universal 
Spirit in mankind in the present and inthefuture. 

We said just now that, before knowing what 
the Art of to-morrow will be, we must find out 
what Science and Philosophy will be, because 
Art is the element which, most immediately 
and in a way that has most social influence, 
reflects their essential character. The Mission 

80 The Art of 

of Art is to cause what is comprehensible to be 
perceived. In that lies the whole of aesthetics. 
Art is not a fantasy of the human imagination, 
nor the caprice of a few idlers ; it is an extra- 
ordinary effort of the divine faculties of man. 
Art is a sublime necessity which is brought 
about and developed in accordance with the 
progress of civilisation. It is neither above or 
below other manifestations of the spirit : it 
results from them and completes them. 

Through the infinite veil, behind which the 
unseen work of the Great Unknown is carried 
on, Beauty sheds its light, quivering with the 
divine radiance, the wondrous effect of the 
mystic harmony of essence and substance, of 
which works of art are the objective suggestions, 
in proportion to the mental capacity of the 
artist, inspired to receive them. It is sufficient 
to reflect for a moment upon the strange 
phenomenon of the artistic vocation to become 
assured that Art has a definite reason for its 
being, and that it consequently plays an 
important part in idealising society. 

Certain short-sighted thinkers, ever advancing 
hypotheses, and whose pessimism is only the 
sad result of their ignorance of everything 
which concerns the secrets of life, have assumed 
the doom of Art to be at hand, bewildered as 
they are in the midst of the present confusion 
of so many schools of such opposite teaching. 
To their purblind gaze, this confusion, evident 

the Future 81 

but momentary, is a sure sign that the positivist 
spirit of the age cannot be reconciled to the 
aesthetic imagination ! They have never dreamt 
of asking themselves if the age — the coming 
age — would really be positivist or spiritualist, 
and if the Science of the future would be the 
same as that of to-day ! 

That is where, there alone, and nowhere else, 
the very roots of the problem are to be found, 
and whence conclusions may be drawn. Art 
— we use the word in its widest sense — pursues 
a parallel and like direction to that of Science. 
Often, indeed, they clasp hands. 

Art has been sufficiently degraded by Theory, 
being said to be idle, and aesthetics to be merely 
instinctive and fortuitous ! The petty theorists 
about " temperament ' praise the art of idle 
daubers who load their palettes with the matter 
derived from their impure instincts and the 
disorder due to their natural imperfections. 
Critics and artists have gone arm in arm by 
the path strewn with the debaucheries of 
their " temperament," confident that they were 
marching along the highway of Art ! 

Although we do not wish to insist that 
each painter and sculptor, before setting about 
a masterpiece, should write his little treatise 
on aesthetics, it is at least necessary that he 
should show that his work is the result neither 
of mere calculation nor of chance, but the ideal, 
emotional, conscious outpouring of his soul, 

Sz The Art of 

his thought, raised to the level of a subject, 
inspired by some noble thought. Betwixt the 
artist's life and death his Work alone remains 
below. And this work, to be worthy of its name, 
must not be the outcome of his instinct and 
fancy, but the supreme effort of his soul, 
through his will and love, towards Beauty. 
It is not necessary that the artist's instinct or 
method should be observable in his work, but 
his whole consciousness alone ; that is to say, 
his aspiration concentrated on an ideal of 
perfection. Is it not more noble for the artist 
to exhibit in his work, not merely his selfish 
and vain ' personality," but his honest love 
for the Beautiful ? For through this Love alone 
the divine ray of genius is made manifest. 

Yes, the artist, if he would gaze into the 
divine brightness of Absolute Beauty, must 
crystallize the immortal principle of his being. 
At once intuitive and sensitive, through the 
mysterious faculties which are the very condi- 
tion of his creative life, he can then attain 
perfection, for which otherwise there exists 
but a vague and painful longing, and from 
which the external life, that depending on the 
senses alone, is far away. 

But the time has come when the Fine Arts, 
regenerated through Synthesis and penetrating 
into the boundless regions of the Other World, 
will at last become " the incorporation of the 
Idea, the Word, in Forms of Nature." 

the Future 83 

The triple formula — Beauty of Idea, Beauty 
of Form, and Beauty of Execution — which forms 
the fundamental principle of idealist art, and 
over which vague criticism will never prevail, 
will not have been uttered in vain. It will be 
the basis of the Art of the future. 

Idealism, in art, in philosoph} 7 , and even 
in politics, is the mighty and everlasting 
movement towards the Better. We venture to 
prophesy that the artistic creed of the future, 
far from deteriorating, carefully preserved from 
all that is romantic or academic, from naturalism 
and impressionism, will no longer be the product 
of the spontaneous instinct of superficial 
temperaments. It will become the harmonious 
concentration of the individual artistic faculties 
and creative powers towards a complete art, 
a harmony of form and intellect, worthy of 
human beings that have undergone a moral 
and spiritual evolution. 

A higher conception of Beauty and Life 
ought to form in the artist's soul side by side 
with a healthier and clearer manifestation of 
Emotion and Idea. 

Impressionism, which is only a neurotic 
realism or naturalism, has not been able to 
inspire art with the real aesthetic emotion. 
Fact, instinct, sentiment, the spontaneous, 
the fleeting, the immediate, the instantaneous, 
the ail-but, the relative, those are the only 
themes of art which it has introduced into its 

84 The Art of 

process. It is the school of Objectivity and 
Illusion. Separating the Ideal from Nature, 
and Thought from Life, this school has become 
barren. A false conception of Nature, a false 
conception of Life, a false conception of Art — 
such is the sum of the realist, naturalist, and 
impressionist views of art. 

Believing mental emotion, ideal emotion, 
to be of no use, the majority of modern painters 
instead of getting into communion with Nature, 
have distorted it (de-naturie). 

Much talent has been frittered away and lost 
for want of a clearly defined view of aesthetics 
and a mental inspiration. Many, rinding them- 
selves possessed of real technical powers, have 
only been able to utilise them in the representa- 
tion of trivial and inferior things. The fact has 
been too often ignored that just as the universal 
and cosmic laws are the primordial conditions 
of the whole natural, moral, and psychic 
evolution of mankind, so in art the law of the 
Beautiful is the condition of all perfection, of 
all idealism. Artists at present, diverted from 
their natural powers, unconscious of their 
natural strength, contemptuous or afraid of 
pure idealism, do not know how to adjust 
nervous sensitivity, the psychological condition 
of the modern race, to a lofty artistic expression. 

Let us henceforward strive to facilitate the 
natural evolution of Art by proclaiming the 
power of the Ideal. 

the Future 85 

Without wishing to encroach on the province 
of sociology, we may affirm, with our gaze 
fixed on the progress towards the Best (le 
Meilleur-Devenir), that the society of the 
future, whose clear shadow can already be seen 
on the broad luminous horizon of the new age, 
will possess an art where universal Love and 
human Brotherhood, the relations of Nature 
to the Absolute, of the Invisible to the Visible, 
of Matter to Spirit, will be the subjects that 
will occupy the new-born ingenuity of the 

Artistic creation will proceed wholly upon 
a higher level, whence everything distorted or 
debased will be logically banished, since the 
form will then be adequate to the thought. 

The immediate Mission of Art is to purify 
man. Deprive art of this mission, and there 
remains to it only a barren imagery, able only 
to interest the puerile soul of some idle virtuoso 
or the commercial instinct of dealers, who find 
in the wares of art something which may satisfy 
their sordid lust for gold. 


The Relations of Church and 
State to Art 


No utility in Uninspired Art — " Christian Art " the product of Religious 
Materialism — Modern Religion prohibits Initiation into Sacred 
Things — Transmission of the Universal Wisdom — Its ability to 
achieve the Unity of Religions — The Fundamental Spirit of Chris- 
tianity — Wisdom of East and West derived from a Common Source 
— Key to the Secret Doctrine withheld by, and Beauty discoun- 
tenanced by, the Church — Indissolubility of Art and Religion — 
" Christian Art " debased as long as its Source of Inspiration is 

" A RT, like Science, can enlighten the human 
-£a» consciousness." It must never be made a 
pretext for diversion or an easy method 
of securing pleasure, and when it appeals to the 
senses, that is to say, when it limits sensation 
to the empty objects of grosser life, without 
raising the spirit to the vision of the higher 
life, when, in short, art does not remind the 
human soul of the inner and divine aspirations 
of Love, Charity, and Light, then it is better 
to stamp it out, since it is then the cause of 
a great and deplorable loss of energy both to 
the individual and the community. Art which 
has no thought, which does not purify, and 
which, in a word, does not raise the soul above 
the vain shows of earth is an art which has no 

It may satisfy the limited understanding of 
the inferior, it may satisfy the sordid personal 
vanity of artists without ideal, whose name 

Church, State and Art 87 

is legion, but such an art will never lead towards 
the true goal of Art. 

It dwells outside the artistic consciousness ; 
and among the different kinds of perverted or 
decayed art there is one we must remark upon. 
It concerns that religious materialism which even 
now we still venture to call " Christian Art." 

We know that the part played by the con- 
temporary Church has been pitiable, not to 
say culpable. Modern Religion, whose orthodox 
and realistic mysticism has caused a material 
conception of the Gospel Mystery, is seen to 
be contradictory to the pure Christian ideal, 
since it has cast out of its bosom esoteric 
initiation into sacred things — its very basis. 
It is the Initiation of the Universal Wisdom, 
which is, nevertheless, ever alive and never can 
be destroyed, for though rejected by the creeds 
of fanaticism and hide-bound orthodoxy, in 
order to assure the maintenance of the preroga- 
tives of the Church, it rinds a noble asylum 
in the enlightened communion of rare spirits, 
whose Christianity is that of Christ, the divine 
initiator of immortal theosophies. This it is 
which is destined to bring about profound 
changes in the social and religious order of the 
world. This, too, is the same mystic and 
scientific doctrine, in which Diotime * (that 

* Diotime, a Greek priestess of Mantinea, is mentioned by Plato in 
the " Banquet." She is said to have influenced Socrates in his theories 
with regard to Love and Beauty. 

88 The Relations of Church 

extraordinary woman of the ancient world, 
in the history of mystic philosophy coming 
earlier than the pure victim of S. Cyril, the 
beautiful Hypatia), secretly initiated Socrates, 
a doctrine which is found, as though trans- 
mitted by initiation, in the poet of the Divine 
Comedy, Dante, seventeen centuries after the 
great Egyptian initiates revealed it to the 
philosophers of Greece. 

In the history of philosophic teaching, the 
Universal Wisdom is that which shines with the 
purest radiance. Successive generations of 
eastern and western initiators have trans- 
mitted it through alternating periods of light 
and darkness to modern times, and it is to-day 
to be found in two powerful bodies of doctrine, 
' Martinism ' and the Theosophical Society, 
the first representing the western tradition, the 
second coming from India, through the august 
and immemorial initiation of Brahminism, but 
both perfectly united in their teaching. 

Whatever the orthodox may think, it is 
through this that the great principle of the 
Unity of Religion will be established in the 
world, because it is precisely in the realisation 
of that principle that the divine elements of 
the universal brotherhood are found, which 
holds humanity as an actual Living Being ; 
that is, that individuals, peoples, and races, 
are members of one body : Humanity. And 
this esoteric Wisdom is nothing else than 

and State to Art 89 

philosophic Gnosticism, revealed according to 
the need of the age for the spirits of truth and 
love, which, in the heart of the unseen, watch 
over the destiny of the human race. Our 
gratitude is also due to the intelligence of 
light incarnated on earth, and whose mission 
is to shed their light upon human science, 
religion, literature, and art, each time they 
slip back and fall into materialism. 

Rama, Krishna, Moses, Hermes, Orpheus, 
Pythagoras, Plato, Manu, and our Master 
Jesus Christ, the early fathers of the Church, 
St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Irenaeus, St. 
John and the Apostles, were the most brilliant 
and powerful teachers of the Science of the 
divine mysteries. The pure mystic Christology 
of the Chaldeans, Egyptians, Hindoos, Persians, 
and Greeks, who were cognizant before the 
coming of Christ of the Symbol of the Cross, 
proves, indeed, that this Universal Wisdom or 
Ancient Wisdom, as it is usually called, is a 
revealed science, whose unity is clearly to be 
seen beneath the apparent divergences, due to 
adaptations to place and period, of great 
religions based on an esoteric teaching. 

We must not then sever, as obscure and 
subtle theologians have done, the Christian 
teaching from this Science of the Soul, the 
science of sciences, the true Science of the 
Ideal, nor consider it from a sectarian point 
of view in the light of a heresy, at the risk 

90 The Relations of Church 

of displacing the axis of civilisation or 
causing the spiritual evolution of beings to go 

Gnosticism or Universal Wisdom is really, 
indeed, the pure and fundamental spirit of 
Christianity. All Christian theories, Catholic 
or Protestant, have sprung from it, corrupted 
or partly mutilated. 

St. Pantaenus,* Athenagoras, Origen, know- 
ing it to have come from the temples of Thebes, 
Memphis, and Sals, inculcated its lofty teach- 
ing. The works of Abbot Trithemius,f Saint 
Denys the Areopagite, St. Thomas Aquinas, 
the admirable Ruysbroeck, £ St. Angela of 
Foligno, and St. Francis of Assisi, are impreg- 
nated with it. St. Augustine, one of the classic 
Christian writers, has said : " What is now 
termed the Christian religion existed in ancient 
times, nor has it ceased to exist from the beginning 

* Pantaenus was head of the catechetical school at Alexandria (180— 
202 a.d.), and the teacher of Clement of Alexandria and Origen. He is 
said to have originally been a Stoic, and was sent as a missionary to 
" India " or Yemen. His commentaries on various books of Scripture are 

f John Trithemius, Abbot of Spanheim, taught chemistry to Para- 
celsus. He is the author of tracts on the " elixir vitae," the " Poligrapkta,'' 
the first important work on cryptography (1500), and the " Chronicon" 
of Spanheim (1506). 

% John Ruysbroeck (1293-1381), the father of mysticism in the 
Netherlands. His doctrines were rather practical than speculative. He is 
chiefly occupied with the means whereby the " unto mystica " is to be 
attained, whereas Eckhardt, who greatly influenced him, dwells on the 
union as an ever-present fact. He lived in seclusion with his little com- 
munity at Vauvert, and died as first prior of the Convent at Groenendael. 
He has been confused with William of Rubruk, a Franciscan Friar, who 
wrote a narrative of Asiatic travel in the thirteenth century. 

and State to Art 91 

of the human race to the days when Christ came 
upon earth." * 

In short, primitive mysticism, that is to 
say, such as existed before modern orthodox 
theology, is this universal philosophy, which 
contains the Christian truths, and which is 
furthermore the primordial spiritual substance 
of the cults of East and West. 

Between the " Imitation of Jesus Christ ' 
and the " Bhagavad-Gitd ' there only exist 
differences of terminology. The form and 
imagery change ; the essentials are the same. 
It is the same Word of spiritual life. The 
Christian and Hindoo adepts, through their 
profound enlightenment, found in it the one 
source. The Brahmin of India and the Christian 
of Europe, in spite of time and space, vibrate 
as one soul with the harmony of the universal 
Truth. By what right does the pride of the 
Catholic Church wish to shatter the spiritual 
harmony of two worlds ? By whose authority ? 
In the name of whom ? In the name of what ? 

In the name of Christ ? Christ is not called 
the Pope. Christ is called Love and Light. 
The Spirit of God, the universal Word, sheds 
its light on all humanity. In this lies the 
disagreement between the secret doctrine and 

* St. Augustine wrote a treatise on the Beautiful — now lost — in 
which he appears to have reproduced Platonic ideas under a Christian guise. 
He taught that Unity is the form of all Beauty (" omnis porro pulchritu- 
dinis forma unitas est "). Infinite goodness, truth, and beauty are the 
attributes of the Deity, and communicated by Him to all things. 

92 The Relations of Church 

Catholic dogma, for Buddha is the Christ of 
the East as Christ is the Buddha of the West. 

The present Church, veiling it in obscurity, 
refuses to admit this truth, which, when the 
day comes for purity to be preferred to power, 
it must end by embracing. It has driven again 
into the darkness the light of divine knowledge. 
The light will consume it in its unquenchable 

This light, vibrating with Love and know- 
ledge, is already growing larger, not in order to 
destroy dogmas, but to vivify them, to 
illuminate them, to render them more trans- 
lucid, and, out of the black petrified mass which 
they have become, to make a glorious diamond 
of dazzling psychic light, able to bring about a 
new rebirth of the human race. 

Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, 
who is but a new revelation of the divine 
Wisdom, of the Science of Mysteries, said of 
the disputants of the Pharisaical priesthood : 
" Woe unto ye who have grasped the key of 
knowledge and, not having penetrated into its 
sanctuary yourselves, have yet closed it unto 

The narrowness and poverty of ignorant 
devotion , the inability to understand the 
meaning of the ritual of the Roman Church, the 
continual Popish transformations in the per- 
formance of the Mass, falsifyings, errors of all 

*S. Luke xi. 52. 

and State to Art 9 


kinds, have made religion, both in practice and 
understanding, not the realisation of the great 
ideal of universality through Love and Science, 
but the political organisation of a materialised 

In the darkness of Roman orthodoxy divine 
Christianity has long gasped for breath, and 
the policy of the Papacy has been to take away 
the keys in order to keep the much needed 
truth closely locked up. 

Now this same religion, which has banished 
the sacred knowledge, has ended by reprobating 

Since its munificent and productive patronage 
of art during the Renaissance, the Church has 
forsworn any interest in it. Since then religious 
art has day by day deteriorated. The imagery 
of contemporary Christianity is as trivial as 
it is possible to conceive. It is a perfect expres- 
sion of nothingness in art. The artists of 
" Christian art " have debased religious inspira- 
tion with the grossest and most puerile elements 
of bigotry. It is the reign of absolute common- 
place insipidity. 

The spirit of the Church no longer compre- 
hends the Ideal, and Christian art has become 
one of its shames. It borders on sacrilege. Its 
degradation is complete. 

The religious spirit is now incapable of con- 
ceiving Beauty. It lies in the bondage of obsolete 
conventions and realism of an inferior kind. 

94 Church, State and Art 

The scandalised hypocrisy which the Church 
cast upon the nude is the very origin of its 
artistic decay. It was bound to come to this 
impoverished state. The veiling of spiritual 
truth was bound to lead to the veiling of the 
most sacred of forms : the human form ! 
The cramping of the psychic faculties naturally 
brought about the annihilation of religious 
inspiration. Distortion of religion gave birth 
to ugliness in art. Religions have the art they 

Art and Religion are indissoluble. The Princes 
of the modern Church should never forget it. 
Instead of allowing Christian temples to be 
profaned by the banal monstrosities and 
hideous eye-sores of the School of St. Luc, that 
manufactory of sacrilege, the high dignitaries 
would be better fulfilling their spiritual duty 
by entrusting the Sacred Images to the genius 
of inspired artists. 

It can be seen that the conception of " reli- 
gious " or " Christian " art cannot be revived 
from its ashes, if its source of inspiration is 
corrupted by the dogmatic and conventional 
conceptions of the contemporary Church. 
Religious art will be replaced in the future by 
the universal idealist Art, the sign of a new 

The Relations of Church and 
State to Art 


State neglect of Art — Modern Rulers lacking in the " aesthetic sense " — 
Art Patronage in the Nineteenth Century — Changed character of 
Royalty — The Reign of Mediocrity — Degradation of the Artist — 
Renaissance Passion for Art — Monarchs and Republics culpable 
alike — Art neither an Aristocracy nor Democracy. 

BUT it is not the princes of the Church 
alone who deliver art over to inferiority 
and ugliness. Modern Kings likewise 
in this respect have proved themselves unworthy. 
If the princes of Religion have deformed the 
aesthetics of religion, the princes of the State, 
at the same time, have forsaken the worship 
of the Beautiful. Seeing no longer that the 
artist, like the thinker and man of science, is 
the glory of a nation, they have in a petty and 
commercial spirit left Art to take care of itself. 
Modern kings are not true kings. The disciples 
of Prudhomme, their dynastic principles seeming 
to aim at the perpetuation of a reign of intel- 
lectual mediocrity, they never raise the eye of 
the spirit beyond decorous financial specula- 
tion, or trivial diplomatic jugglery. When a 
prince lowers the nobility of his soul to the 
stagnant level of commercialism, he falls from 
his giddy height and no longer deserves the 
prestige due to his race. The genealogical 
ties of the ruling houses has long lost its sap, 
and on its dry branches grows only withered 
fruit. Oligarchs are irremediably tainted with 

96 The Relations of Church 

the first symptoms of decay ; the venerable 
mottoes on their escutcheons are like the mock- 
ing voices of a dead past, when they claimed the 
right to rule the world. Alas, the bright blue 
blood of Royalty that once mantled their 
brow with such pride, fit for the purest jewels 
of heroic idealism, is terribly discoloured, 
leaving wrinkles of age upon their sunken 
temples. For, if the physical is the image of the 
moral, these two principles of human vitality 
are found among our illustrious degenerates 
in a degree almost approaching zero. It is 
enough to look for a little upon their effigies, 
to see very clearly the darkness that enveloped 
their brainless skulls and soulless bodies. With 
them thought is no longer what it should be, 
that is to say, the undying passion for know- 
ledge or meditation ; the soul is no longer 
that inexhaustible well-head of splendid enthu- 
siasm. Absorbed selfishly in its own powers, 
participating no longer in the mystic poetry 
of universal life, the intellect, instead of becom- 
ing refined, is dulled, loses that sixth sense, 
the aesthetic sense, and becomes incapable of 
feeling that ideal thrill, of which the aesthetic, 
the great lovers of art, are so proud. And then 
inevitably follows the destruction of that 
intellectual Paradise where the bright flowers 
of a pure taste flourish. 

The individual races which are debased, 
kept in subjection, thrown back on themselves 


f To fact pair q-j. 

and State to Art 97 

like sickly plants, that can no longer erect 
themselves in the light which has caused them 
to spring from the soil, become insensible to 
high human inspirations, particularly such as 
arise directly through special impulses, as Art 

When the French Revolution traced with 
bloody fingers the prophetic symbol of the 
emancipation of the people, and in the terrors 
of its lightning the Mene-Tekel-Phares of the 
aristocracy blazed out, the ferocious activity 
of its thousand guillotines seems to have 
exhausted for ever the blood of the fallen 
theocracy. All the glory, character, and wit 
that past generations had bequeathed to them 
seems to have perished in the revolutionary 
storm of '93. Indeed from that time no monarch 
has known how to rise to anything extra- 
ordinary either in act or thought. Offspring 
of Italy, the land of masterpieces, Napoleon 
preserved in his dark conqueror's soul one of 
those great lights which enabled him to hold 
the art work of his time in respect ; a bright 
constellation of artists arose from the Napoleonic 
era. But after that, for anything like royal 
encouragement in matters of art, there was 
nothing, until France was plunged in the 
decadence of that curious empire, when Bona- 
parte, obsessed by the majestic phantom of 
the old imperial eagle, did not dare to neglect 
artists altogether, and bestowed on them the 

gS The Relations of Church 

foolish patronage of a sensualist, better able 
to appreciate obscenity than a real work of 
art. In fact, after vainly going through the 
commonplace sovereigns of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, it seems that the only prince who appre- 
ciated his artistic mission was Ludwig II. of 
Bavaria, " the only true King of that age in 
which Kings were of such little account," as 
Verlaine justly remarked. Without the lavish 
aid of that warm-hearted enthusiast, that quick 
imagination, Wagner, poor, abused, unknown, 
misunderstood, would never have realised the 
cycle of his mighty conceptions. Without 
Ludwig II. the temple of Bayreuth would not 
have come into being, and the genius of Wagner 
would never have reached its fulfilment, crushed 
by the enmity of his contemporaries which is 
the great disgrace of that time I And that is all. 
After the glorious " madness " of the Bavarian 
prince, no royal personage has given new lustre 
to the gold and diamonds upon his inspired 
brow. Constitutional kings no longer know how 
to be heroes. Complete stupefaction seems to 
have absolutely destroyed in them all senti- 
ments of dignity — or glory. They have not 
even the excuse of gilded misery, and keep 
their magnificence for the hideous official 
ceremonial in which they are pleased to exhibit 
their growing unpopularity. In this, indeed, 
they are true to their part of government 
puppets, for the modern king does not make 

and State to Art 99 

laws : he submits, he proposes ; he no longer 
acts. His duties are automatic, humiliating, 
abstract, ineffective : it is sovereignty in its 
most absurd form ! The purple is changed to 
a frock-coat, the sceptre to a walking-stick, 
and the crown to a top-hat. In such royal guise 
M. Prudhomme easily takes flesh, and can at 
his ease use his civil list profitably in commercial 
enterprises, without at all needing to interest 
himself in spiritual matters. It would be a 
marvel if it were otherwise : it belongs to the 
category of moral destiny. A king whose govern- 
ment is in the hands of lawyers, manufacturers 
and the monied classes, whose interests are 
mainly centred in common political intrigue, 
must, if he wishes to dwell in peace, become 
mediocrity to some extent. A constitutional 
king — -huge irony of modern greatness — is an 
ill-rewarded slave seated upon a gilded chair. 
The chief puppet of some ministers who are 
recruited by election from the lower depths 
of the ambitious bourgeoisie, bound to deny 
himself the slightest initiative, he acts according 
to the whim of those who pull the wires. His 
whole interest in art is represented by a Ministry 
of Fine Arts, whose business it is to acquire at a 
huge price the wildest freaks of worthless art, and 
leave true artists with their works and projects 
to perish of hunger. Indeed it is an under- 
stood thing that the artist who cannot leave 
his high probity and outspoken independence 

ioo The Relations of Church 

behind in his studio, to knock like a beggar 
at the side door of the government office, will 
never receive any official recognition — unless 
maybe at the point of death, or, long after that 
has taken place, on his tombstone. 

The part of Maecenas played by modern 
potentates is lamentable and worthless, and 
when we see in the terrible jumble of the 
triennial exhibitions the mark put upon their 
acquisitions, it is hard to know whether to 
laugh or weep. 

These Boeotians of high rank, the costly 
ornaments of inglorious kingdom or empire, 
are — it can be easily proved — beggars who 
cling to the trappings of state like Harpagon 
to his gold, and seriously profess an incurable 
scepticism for everything that bears any 
resemblance to art. This deplorable poverty 
of intellect, and degenerate spirit, is the effect 
of minds contaminated by speculations on 
the money market. Rothschild has come to 
dominate their thought, their palaces, and 
their whole being. They are the strange votaries 
of the Golden Calf, around which whirls in a 
demoniac frenzy, in our times of universal 
pauperism, the Saturnalia of capitalism. Ah ! 
the princes of the Renaissance — we bow low 
to them — took part in commerce too, and 
sometimes even descended to make raids on 
the Bank, but the money, in the hands of these 
cultured enthusiasts, was made the means of 

and State to Art 101 

realising their artistic aims. They utilised 
their diplomacy and trade in aid of their eager 
passion for the Beautiful, and commerce and 
manufacture never rendered their great souls 
incapable of noble deed or thought. A prince's 
revenue was the true public treasury, from 
which all those who pursued science or art 
drew what they needed for their labours. 

The Borghese, Urbans, and Medici, Popes 
and Emperors, Kings, Dukes, and Nobles, 
were the great admirers of human genius, whose 
palaces were turned into Temples in which 
artists officiated. Before the sovereignty of 
Art, they knew how to put off the sovereignty 
of rank ; this pure-blooded aristocracy, with 
whom " action " was " the sister of dreaming," 
placed the aristocracy of thought above their 

The princes of those days, full of that magnifi- 
cent pride from which spring noble passions 
and great races, dwelt amid the luxury of art, 
liberal, easy of access, with imperial splendour, 
like eagles intoxicated with the light, and if 
they could rise from their splendid sepulchres 
would not admit the bourgeois monarchs of 
the present day even among their condottieri 
or train of menials. Can there be found among 
the awful tribunal of those who sway the sceptre 
in these latter days one man who, like Julius II., 
is capable of uttering such a cry as this : " / 
would drain my blood and cut short my years 

102 The Relations of Church 

to give them to Michael Angelo ! ' It was not 
mere admiration, it was divine love. Genius, 
in these days of splendid image-worshippers, 
fired the spirit, heart, and soul, as to-day Money 
pollutes, and renders them base and servile. 
On all sides the sacred flame was fanned whence 
sprung immortal works, and the great ones of 
the earth suffered the impetuous breath of 
human thought to sweep intoxicatingly through 
their palaces. A thrill of aesthetic ecstasy 
animated monarchs and wondering peoples. 
It was the Reign of the Beautiful. Now it is 
the Reign of Mediocrity. 

In the palaces of the world the kings shine, 
and intrigue in secret, with that dangerously 
growing concourse of social murmurings, their 
empty bulk alone acting as a threat. And 
how sad it is, amid this evolutionary progress, 
these increasing social complications, this grow- 
ing passion for art, this intellectual impulse, 
which is slowly and painfully, but very surely, 
making headway among the people, these new 
forces which are about to rule the world, to 
see in complete contrast the supineness of kings, 
their littleness, their narrow outlook, the spell 
of their prestige, and their weak rule ending 
in moral wretchedness, complete and final ! 
He will not here play the demagogue desiring 
the end of one regime in order that an inept 
" social art " may prevail. Proudhon and his 
great paradox have long been overwhelmed 

and State to Art 103 

by the later judgments of those who have a 
purer comprehension of art ; that is to say, 
those who straitly affirm that art is neither 
an aristocracy nor democracy, but that it is 
Art, that mighty emotion for the Beautiful 
under its manifold variety of form, attainable 
by all those who know how to love it. And not 
more than a barren Monarchy could we excuse 
a Republic that allowed men like D'Aurevilly * 
and Villiers-de-l'Isle Adam f to die in destitu- 
tion, while its mighty commerce showered 
wealth on political quackery and buffoonery. 

But are Art and State ever to remain at 
opposite poles, the absolute antithesis of one 
another, and will future assemblies and law- 
makers, like those of to-day, and like our modern 
Kings, be invertebrate and empty-headed 
bourgeois, whose pitiable shades will never 
move across the stage of history, without 
exciting the derision of peoples and artists ? 

* Baxbey d'Aurevilly was a novelist of great power and originality, 
all his work being marked by genius of a rare kind. He wrote " Les Diabo- 
liques," " Les Prophetes," " Le Chevalier Des Touches." He died in 
poverty about 1895. See an article on him by Edmund Gosse in " The 
Pageant" (1897). 

f Count Villiers de LTsle Adam (1838-1889), French poet and drama- 
tist. Inaugurator of the Symbolist movement. " La Revolte " appeared 
in 1870 ; " Contes Cruels," a volume of short stories, in 1880 ; and his 
last play, " Axel," was published after his death in 1890. A romantic 
idealist, he had considerable influence on younger French writers. 


A Revival of Sacred Art— The 
Beuron School 

TH E unexpected spectacle, amid the 
decadence of modern Christian Art, of 
a religious artistic revival comes as a 
surprise and pleasure to all those who deplore 
the way in which Catholic sanctuaries are 
profaned by imagery of the most puerile kind. 
For a long time, we know, religious art had 
become commonplace and absolutely lacking 
in artistic feeling. And it must be confessed 
that the contemptuous epithet bondieuseries 
which has been commonly applied to the 
tasteless and inappropriate decoration of 
modern churches was well deserved. The 
unanimous outcry of all those that have pre- 
served the sense of beauty in face of the treason 
against art committed by such as profane the 
profession which has been so blindly entrusted 
with the decoration of our sacred buildings 
did not seem able, in spite of its vehemence, 
to bring to life again within the Church anything 
of the beauty of former days. The artistic 
instinct of religion seemed indeed to have 
utterly perished, and so flagrant was its poverty 
of conception that it might have been thought 
that religious feeling would never again recover 
its proper expression. 

In this degeneration of sacred art can there 
not be perceived, as we do not hesitate to afhrm, 

A Revival of Sacred Art 105 

a proof of the weakening of the mystic senti- 
ment, an impoverishment of spiritual life. 
The counterblow given to it by the evolution 
of modern ideas, the growth of naturalism, 
the manifold theories of the emancipation of 
the individual in art, the incoherence and 
uncertainty which prevail in contemporary 
thought, have they not all contributed to 
relegate to the shades of a past which has 
become embarrassing and of no further use 
the glories and immortal example given to 
generations by the Primitives ? Mystic art, it 
might well be thought, had lost connection 
with great tradition, and the ugliness of the 
present day, like that of a barbarous age, 
triumphantly displayed its vandalism in the 
Catholic shrines. There was reason then to 
regret, in the name of outraged Beauty, the 
pure and solemn splendour of an artistic past 
inspired by an almighty faith. Certainly we 
must take into account the bad taste and 
iconoclastic tendencies of the seventeenth, 
eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries when 
seeking the causes which brought about the 
decadence of sacred Art ; but, however that 
may be, there is reason to deplore the influence, 
direct or indirect, of naturalistic theories. Yet 
if there is an art which should not be under 
the influence of wholly imitative principles it 
is surely sacred art, whose aim is not to repro- 
duce perceptible objects, but rather to inspire 

106 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

the soul with piety and devotion. Sacred art 
dwells in a region of its own, beyond the con- 
tingencies of the moment, in the mystery and 
perfection of its symbols, in moral grandeur, 
and the exaltation of the mystic drama. And 
this region is so essentially sacred, that a 
French writer whose name is a synonym for 
scepticism, M. Anatole France, speaks of it 
in the preface to his " Noces corinthiennes " 
in these terms : "I deal in this drama with 
serious and delicate matters — of matters of 
religion. I have redreamt the dream of the 
faith of ages ; I have given myself up to the 
illusion of living beliefs. It would have been 
too wanting in the sense of harmony to treat 
what is pious with impunity. I have a sincere 
respect for sacred things. 

No one will deny that the harmonious region 
of mystic apotheoses ought to have a solemn, 
hieratic, and ideal art, an art filled with peace 
and holiness in which form and colour are 
subordinated to the profound requirements 
of the liturgy, to the plastic exigencies of dogma. 

Now, instead of compositions adequate to the 
intellectual loftiness of their theme we see the 
devotional Christianity of the Church com- 
promised by deliberate outrages on Beauty. 
If the standard of faith is to be judged by the 
degree of artistic inspiration shown by the 
Church to-day, mysticism, it must be confessed, 
has fallen into decay. In setting this result 

The Beuron School 107 

down to external influences alone, those appear 
much to be blamed who have submitted to 
it in so passive and prejudicial a way. Religion, 
speaking in an aesthetic sense, must not allow 
itself to be controlled by the ever-changing 
play of schools and theories. 

From a strictly religious and liturgical point 
of view, there is no artistic evolution possible 
in the fundamental and essential principles of 
Christian art, which are order and splendour. 
The character of liturgical art has been deter- 
mined by the Primitives. It was only necessary 
to continue them by traditional principles. 
The type of mystic beauty having been formu- 
lated by that tradition, I mean the aesthetic 
and technical principles of religious decorative 
art, the Church had only to perpetuate them 
on the great lines laid down by them, since 
nothing prevented their being adapted to the 
present day. 

It is because the Primitives have been 
deserted, the purity and splendour of their 
example despised, the mysterious power that 
links together Art and Religion misunderstood, 
that the source of inspiration has become 
defiled. Cimabue, Giotto, Orcagna, Fra Angelico 
are the eponyms of Christian Art. They are the 
immaculate source of Christian aesthetic in- 
spiration, because they reflect, in true proportion, 
the pure intermingling of the tradition of Graeco- 
Latin art, inherent in the very origin of the 

108 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

religion of the west — Christianity. Outside 
that tradition Christian Art cannot but lose its 
beauty, its grandeur, and its mission, and sink 
fatally into the most deplorable exhibition of 
perverted taste. 

Sacred Art has no point of contact with the 
formless and fanciful productions of the profane 
schools. It is wholly concerned with expressing 
to the senses what, from a mystic point of view, 
appears to be absolute and eternal, the bases 
of the whole spirit of synthesis, the foundations 
of all aesthetic unity. It demands nothing from 
the individual because it proceeds from a 
collective and universal condition of the soul 
springing from the emotional breath of the sen- 
timental life. Just as Esoterics possesses a vision- 
ary Metaphysics whose theories are based on the 
direct vision of invisible verities, so Religion 
has its aesthetic creed consisting of principles 
created by the superior psychic nature of 
religious experiences. Mystic beauty is neces- 
sarily superior to natural beauty because it 
expresses at the same time the perfection of 
moral beauty. That is why liturgic splendour 
is never found in a purely realistic composition. 
It is a divine and not a human art. Unity is 
its end. Hierarchy and hieratism are the 
only possible means of expression because it 
should express, not merely the manifestations 
of individual life, but above all the magnifi- 
cence of the Christian Virtue equally with the 

The Beuron School 109 

adoration of its followers. Sanctity, the highest 
degree of inward evolution, the pinnacle of 
moral beauty, needs a plastic representation 
arising from a clear and simple harmony, which 
abhors " movement which displaces line." Order, 
in what is geometrically ideal and visibly 
harmonious, constitutes the indispensable 
decorative element in works of sacred art. 

Ruskin said very rightly in " The Seven 
Lamps of Architecture " : " Symmetry is not 
an abstract quality." Indeed symmetry is 
a natural law whose manifestation is to be 
found in all forms — visible or invisible — in the 
universe. The beauty of perceptible forms 
results from that symmetry. It is the signature 
of the divine order in nature. Now, since the 
object of religion is the search for order and the 
divine, is it surprising that sacred art, in its 
monumental and decorative expression, should 
endeavour to draw nearer to the plastic essence 
of nature by the geometric laws of Beauty ? 

This, judging by the works they have already 
achieved, has been perfectly understood by 
the monastic artists of the Beuron School* 
and it is no exaggeration to say that they have 
restored to the great art of religious decoration 

* The community of Beuron was founded at Beuron in Germany, by 
the Arch-Abbe Naure VVolter (died in 1890). The Beuron School was created 
by the R. P. Desire Lenz with the object of reviving sacred art by the 
idealist view of a?sthetics. The School has already produced quite remark- 
able works, notably : The Chapel of St. Maur, near Sigmaringen ; the 
decoration of the Churcfr of the Holy Vigrin, at Stuttgart, in the Abbey of 
Emmaiis, near Prague ; and in the Convent of St. Benoit, on Monte 
Cassino, near Naples. 

no A Revival of Sacred Art : 

its proper form and rediscovered the source of 
which the Church seemed to have lost all trace. 
The reproduction of their frescoes and bas-reliefs 
bears remarkable testimony to the high sense 
of decorative treatment which guides them 
equally with the pure comprehension of form 
which inspires them in their superb impulse of 
revival. Their aim can be perceived in their 
works, which is to realise the great principle 
of religious art by uniting the love of rhythm 
which characterises Greek aesthetics with the 
sentimental harmonies of the Christian drama. 
Pheidias and Fra Angelico should be the chief 
inspiration of their idealism. Owing to the 
universality of its principles Idealism is ever to 
be met with, because Beauty partakes of Unity. 
Whether Pagan or Christian, great art is always 
religious. Idealism necessarily produces beauty, 
because it is the very expression of great art. 

In proof of this I mention the Virgin (Vierge 
hieratique) which adorns the portal of that 
wonderful chapel of St. Maur, reared by the 
Beuron School on the rocks of the Danube 
valley, and which has been well compared — 
a wholly relative comparison, be it under- 
stood, but grounded rightly on the perfect 
harmony of its architectural proportions and 
decorative treatment — to a little Christian 
Parthenon. All the austere artistic effort of 
the Beuron School seems to be summarised in 
this wonderful and mysterious image, beautiful 

The Beuron School hi 

with the irresistible beauty of a perfect thing. 
It is only a knowledge of the geometry of 
aesthetics, the knowledge of exact proportion, 
measurement, and number, of which Plato 
speaks, which could have realised such per- 
fection in the agreement of the whole and its 
parts. The example which the monk artists of 
Beuron give there to contemporary art is great 
and significant. 

From the simple linear ornament to the 
composition of the fresco, everything in this 
noble work is eloquent of harmony and beauty. 
It is the pure splendour of simplicity, the con- 
dition of perfect equilibrium between matter 
and spirit which the artist has reached, due to 
his respect for a wise tradition and a lofty 
emotion. That tradition, we repeat, is the only 
one suited to the decoration of sacred buildings, 
and, if it does not wish to degenerate still 
further, modern sacred art must become 
impregnated with it. By following it, the 
Benedictine artists who know how to apply 
it with proper taste and intelligence will return 
to the primitive cradle of the art displayed in 
the catacombs, which owed its freshness pre- 
cisely to the agreement between the tradition 
of the ancients and the Christian ideal. Out 
of the spiritualism of those two tendencies 
there should arise a new form of art in which 
beauty of form would be conjoined with nobility 
of sentiment. 

ii2 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

The Virgin of the Chapel of St. Maur agrees 
with the liturgic representation of the Early 
Church, which holds her at the same time to 
be seated on the throne of divine Wisdom. 
Such as the artist has painted her, with so sure 
a taste, and such proper feeling for mural 
treatment, would she have appeared in the 
sacred presentment of the Virgin ; that is to 
say, according to the Scriptures : The beauty 
of order is in Me for all eternity. 

This Virgin especially, as well as the head 
of Christ, represent indeed the aesthetic ideal 
which governs sacred art, and we know few 
works that are superior or equal to them. In 
our eyes they are worthy of being classed with 
the noblest expressions of Beauty and Perfec- 
tion which sought to fix the ideal type in which 
should be manifested the union between the 
essence of what is human and what is divine. 
It is only by proportion, purity of design, and 
beauty of line that these ideal types can express 
in art their dogmatic grandeur. For Line, as 
Peladan says, is the immutable theology of Form. 
All sacred art aims immediately at the decora- 
tive objectivity of the divine character of 
Beauty. The Benedictine painter bases himself 
upon that beauty, and seeks the eternal type 
in the human form. Ugliness is incompatible 
with the ideal of perfection which Christianity 
sets up. Besides, if history is to be believed, 
the saints, both men and women, were, speaking 


'ill . pUg? 112. 

The Beuron School 113 

generally, physically beautiful. Do not nearly 
all the lives of the Saints remark on the admira- 
tion felt by their judges and butchers when they 
beheld the beauty of the martyrs ? 

Christianity cannot remain insensible to the 
beauty of human perfection. This is what the 
Christian artists of the Beuron School under- 
stand, and that is why, we are glad to think, 
they are endeavouring, by setting a good 
example, to bring about a reaction against 
what is commonplace and in bad taste, and, 
in a word, against the clerical ugliness of sacred 
images which have become the terrors of the 
sanctuary. For it must be confessed that it 
is the clerical conception of religious sentiment 
that has brought about the profane treatment 
of modern sacred art. So that it is with a 
real feeling of friendship and artistic brother- 
hood that artists welcome the endeavour of the 
Beuron School to bring about a revival. The 
place which the religious sense occupies in 
modern civilisation is still sufficiently prominent, 
it must be allowed, for it to endeavour to express 
itself in a form of art worthy at least of the 
powerful current of spirituality which Christian 
thought has sent throughout the West. In the 
hands of the artists of Beuron the decoration of 
the churches will be raised to the high level 
of the moral unity of the Christian life, which 
of necessity must produce in art line and colour, 
as well as technical unity, which alone allow 

ii4 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

the harmonious treatment of the vast decorative 
schemes requisite for the architectural breadth 
of edifices consecrated to the religion of a people. 
If the historical evolution of art is considered, 
we are met with the undeniable fact that 
decorative painting, properly speaking, is 
really an essentially Christian art, in the 
sense that it is, of all plastic arts, the most 
fitted for the external display of sentiments 
and ideas. Is it surprising then that in the very 
bosom of religion there should be again exhibited 
an artistic impulse under its most legitimate 
form ? We have grown accustomed nowadays 
to consider sacred art as definitely dead, and 
to look upon every attempt to revive it as an 
anachronism. As defenders of Beauty under 
whatever form it may be expressed, it is our 
duty to welcome, on occasion, every endeavour 
that is made towards Beauty. 

That endeavour, none can doubt who have 
seen their works, has been successfully accom- 
plished by the Beuron School. It corresponds, 
moreover, to a general tendency of art at the 
present day. Whilst contemporary art is 
struggling at this moment to shake off the errors 
of the schools that rely on instinct and imitation 
and is endeavouring to rise to the conception 
of general ideas through the form of that 
great decorative art, of which Puvis de 
Chavannes was the forerunner in France, these 
solitary monks are likewise striving laboriously 

The Beuron School 115 

in the silence of their monasteries to give a 
new birth to their religious ideal by means of 
a nobler form of art and one with a new meaning. 
Knowing what element of beauty their original 
resources could supply, and the method of 
expression allowed to them by Hellenic and 
Byzantine traditions of sacred art, the Beuron 
School has managed to evolve a sustained style, 
full of grace and dignity, suitable to the religious 
life of our times and worthy of modern inspira- 

In these days when religious beliefs themselves, 
governed by the law which determines the evolu- 
tion of the conscience and profiting by the 
acquisitions of modern learning, have assumed 
a more philosophic and scientific guise than 
belonged to those of the Middle Ages, which 
were too exclusively devotional and ascetic, 
there is wanted a treatment of sacred subjects 
which should be better informed, better 
balanced, free from the crudities of the Gothic 
period, and in which mystic emotion should 
be under the control of the laws of knowledge, 
wisdom and reason. Formerly the works pro- 
duced in the monastic studios were executed 
stiffly and mechanically according to the con- 
ventions and style peculiar to the different 
Orders. The artist was completely controlled 
and fettered by the rigid and narrow applica- 
tion of the principle of the division of work. 
The manual of the liturgic artist, the monk 

ti6 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

Theophilus, was the unchangeable and uniform 
creed of art, conforming to the expression of 
the ascetic vision of the age, impregnated with 
the violent reaction on which the new Christian 
faith was founded against the physical beauty 
of paganism. The Beuron School does not 
consider it necessary to continue to propagate 
that early error, which in the course of time 
brought about the debasement of form, and 
caused sacred art to lose the sense of harmony 
and proportion. And if it has chosen to return 
to the purely Greek and Byzantine sources of 
Christian Art, it is to properly apply the decora- 
tive beauty of tradition to the symbolical 
exigencies of the liturgy, confident that Hellen- 
ism, owing to the rationalism of its artistic 
principles,will preserve their art from becoming 
commonplace and ugly, by restoring it 
to grandeur and elevation of style. Moreover, 
were not the works of Pheidias, Polycleitos, 
Zeuxis, Apelles, and Lysippus, the prototypes 
which served as guides to the early Christian 
artists ? And has not the tradition of the 
technique of decoration been borrowed from 
the ancient world ? The genius of Greece is 
always being encountered at the basis of 
religious art. 

A magnificent example is presented to us by 
the frieze of Flandrin * which so affords so 

* Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) was, like Chavannes, a native 
of Lyons, and, like him also, is famous chiefly for his monumental decora- 
tive paintings. His early difficulties were removed by his taking, in 1832, 

The Beuron School 117 

harmonious a decoration to the Church of St. 
Vincent de Paul at Paris. Does not this master- 
piece, one of the most important works of 
modern art, unfortunately too little known, 
and which criticism has not appreciated at its 
proper value, owe the wonderful arrangement 
of its line and perfect decorative unity pre- 
cisely to the fusion of its pure Hellenism with 
the gentle austerity of Christian sentiment ? 

And since we have naturally come to speak 
of the masterly work of Flandrin, may we be 
allowed to take advantage of it to offer here 
a friendly warning to the Beuron School ? 
In all art, the danger to be avoided is conven- 
tion ; that is to say, the frigid application of 
formulae, which results in a " poncif." In a word, 
it is inevitably death to personal inspiration 
or emotion, owing to the absence of direct 
contact with forms of nature. To speak frankly, 
there is an omission which weighs upon modern 
Christian art with all the weight of the prejudice 
which gave it birth : it is the absolute proscrip- 
tion of the study of the nude, the observation 
of the human body, God's masterpiece in nature ! 

the Grand Prix de Rome, and he soon acquired a reputation by several 
important works mostly of religious subjects. In 1838 he was commissioned 
to decorate the Church of St. Severin at Paris, and from that time onward 
he was continually engaged in similar work. His chief works are at St. 
Germain-des-Pres, at Paris, in the Church of St. Paul at Nimes, in that of 
St. Vincent de Paul at Paris, and in the Church of Amay at Lyons. Regard- 
ing painting as the vehicle of the expression of spiritual sentiment, Flandrin 
perhaps paid too little regard to the technical qualities of his art. His work 
is austere and cold, and though it is customary to compare him with 
Fra Angelico, his creations lack the joy and purity of the early master. 
He died of small-pox at Rome. 

n8 A Revival of Sacred Art : 

It has always been a great mistake to suppose 
that the representation of ideas in art takes 
no account of the study of living forms. The 
two unshakeable bases of aesthetics are Nature 
and the Ideal. The attempt to follow the laws 
of ideal beauty, without giving heed also to the 
laws of natural beauty, results in a " poncif " 
and " pastiche." The traditional methods and 
formulae requisite for the technical application 
of a difficult art ought to be put at the service 
of the creative instinct and individual inspira- 
tion. To continually endeavour to conciliate 
the experience of tradition with the renewal 
of creative power is not only the duty, but the 
right, of every true artist devoted to great art. 
However right and proper the decorative treat- 
ment may be to express a general idea, nothing 
must suffer individual inspiration to be sup- 
pressed. If, therefore, the Beuron School, 
while remaining faithful to the principles of 
a legitimate tradition, desires to carry out 
successfully its attempt to give a new life to 
sacred art, it must not embody its ideal in too 
rigid a formula. It will then be the better 
able to work in harmony with the inviolable 
laws of change, and not remain stationary in 
a too exclusive imitation of the past, and so 
adapt its art with due balance and proportion 
to the changes of the spiritual sentiment of 
religion. Egyptian art, itself, liturgic and 
sacerdotal as it was, underwent changes in 

The Beuron School 119 

the aesthetic expression of ideas. It began 
to degenerate from the moment that its archi- 
tects, painters, and sculptors began to servilely 
copy, without infusing them with the inner life 
which renews external appearances, the scale 
and proportions which had been bequeathed 
by a powerful sacerdotal tradition. 

The artists of the Beuron School, while 
basing the form of the figure on the impersonal 
nature of the Greek cult of rhythm as well as 
Byzantine sacerdotalism, significant on their 
part of a true sense of beauty, should aim more 
at individualising their heads. Thus, the 
irresistible beauty of symmetry, one of the 
essential elements of harmony, will be rendered 
more complete by the irresistible charm of the 
expression of type. That is, too, what all the 
great masters of sacred art, Giotto, Cimabue, 
Fra Angelico, etc., were accustomed to do. 
Without forgetting that the treatment of sacred 
subjects depends on the formula so clearly 
enunciated by Denys the Areopagite : " When 
we bow down in worship to an Image, we bow 
down to the prototype represented by that Image," 
the religious painter is right in seeking among 
the forms of natural life for an ideal prototype. 
Certainly we are somewhat inclined to take the 
Benedictine artists of Beuron severely to task 
for being rather too anxious to emulate the 
Greek monks of Mount Athos, and regret that 
the Guide to Sacred Art by Giorgos Marcos, a 

120 A Revival of Sacred Art 

Byzantine monk, should serve as their text- 
book. But it is not the less true that remarkable 
works have issued from the monastic studios 
of Beuron, and that from this time forward 
sacred art of a more or less renovated kind is 
actually existing. The ecclesiastical authorities 
have been shown how churches ought to be 
decorated, of which they have been strangely 
ignorant for so long, to the disgrace of the 
dignity of their worship and the dignity of art. 


* The Social Influence of Art 

" Of all social forces which have power to 
assist in the uplifting of a people, there is none 
perhaps of greater importance than Art." 

Annie Besant. 

Harmony the Secret of the Universe and the State — Art reveals Harmony 
— Birth of Social Intelligence marked by creation of an Image — 
Perception of Beauty inseparable from Mentality — Evolution of Art 
corresponds with Social Progress — Superficial view of /Esthetics — 
Social Energy aims at Perfect Harmony — Social Problems solved by 
the Cult of Beauty — ^Esthetic Sense the great force of true Spiritual 
Life — Beauty perceived through the Imagination, rather than 
through the Senses — Inferior Artists afraid of Great Art — Great Art 
does not Imitate, but conquers, Matter — Art must illumine Society, 
not reflect it — New Era in Belgian Art — Beauty and Utility not In- 
compatible — The Artist represents Public Thought — The Mission 
of Art is to represent Ideas — Ideas of Past Ages reflected in their 
Monuments — ^Esthetics a Social Benefit. 

AN illustrious disciple of Plato, and an 
influential friend moreover of Pheidias, 
the great law-giver Pericles, on one 
occasion at Athens allowed this wise and pro- 
found saying to fall from his lips, which seems 
the living echo of the Pythagorean doctrine : 
" Touch not the bases of Music ; you would 
touch the very foundations of the State." 

In these words Pericles formulated the social 
principle of Art, the essence of which is Harmony, 
that is, Beauty. 

The statesman and the artist in him reminded 
Greece that what constitutes one of the first 
elements of the moral and intellectual harmony 
of a civilisation is the feeling for the Beautiful, 

* This chapter is from a paper by M. Delville, entitled " Le Principe 
Social de I' Art," contributed to " La Belgique," April, 1907. 

122 The Social Influence 

or, more clearly, the direct action of that 
wonderful feeling upon the soul in the forma- 
tion of human societies. 

Order and harmony, no one can reasonably 
deny, are very prominent social virtues. The 
universe only exists by harmony, and the 
important formula, " order from chaos," is 
one of the most formidable affirmations of the 
divinity of Harmony in the primordial genesis 
of the world. If harmony is the essence of 
things, if it is the great balancing force which 
vibrates at the core of worlds and in the core 
of the smallest atom, if it is, in one word, the 
secret of the universe, it ought, therefore, to be 
the essence and secret of the State likewise. 

Now, it is Art which makes man most directly 
sensible of the fundamental existence of 
harmony, that universal harmony before which 
modern materialism is forced finally to stammer 
its admiration in despair. 

The social principle of art may already be 
traced from the earliest ages of humanity, in 
the dark periods when the nascent civilisations 
scarcely emerge from the night of time. The 
most undeniable document, the most positive 
proof of the advent of intelligence in primitive 
man, and of the aesthetic element which enters 
into his composition, the very sign of the evi- 
dence of the mental light in the human animal,* 

* See, for what more especially deals with the esoteric teaching of 
human evolution or human genealogy : " The Mystery of Evolution," by 
Jean Delville, Lamertin, Brussels. 

of Art 123 

do we not find in this fact, revealed by geology 
and anthropology, that the appearance of social 
intelligence among mankind dates from that 
wonderful moment when he learnt how to carry 
his feeling for the beautiful into an image, 
derived from the forms of the life around him ? 

Yes, it was indeed by tracing on the raw 
material, the outline of a living or inanimate 
object, the memory of whose beauty he desired 
to perpetuate and which had made its impres- 
sion upon his intelligence, that prehistoric 
man, at the dawn of the human race, revealed 
the social and intellectual principle of Art. 

Now, it has been remarked by the great 
English biologist, Huxley, that in all the 
numerous kinds of species no animal has endea- 
voured to reproduce an image of aught that 
surrounded him. Art is unknown to animals. 

Art, then, is, indeed, the undeniable sign of 
intelligence and wit in man. As soon as man 
could think, he was an artist. 

Just as primitive man expressed his ideas 
by means of imagery, so in the world of imagery 
people become conscious of ideas. 

The feeling for the beautiful is inseparable 
from the mental conscience. One of the char- 
acteristics of the psychology of the child, one 
which marks an important stage in the develop- 
ment of his intelligence, is the growing interest 
that he takes in the image. There again we 
have a proof that the aesthetic idea cannot be 

124 The Social Influence 

separated from the mental evolution of man, 
and that art plays a vital part in human life. 

The evolution of the aesthetic sense always 
corresponds to increased social consciousness, 
to refined sensibility. The whole history of 
art shows us how it works hand in hand with 
human progress. Wherever in the world the 
germs of civilisation have been found, those 
germs have been manifested under one of the 
forms of art. 

The domain of aesthetics constitutes a social 
factor of a truly harmonious psychic influence. 

Imagination is a real power in man. Without 
imagination man can create nothing and invent 

The artistic faculties are not derived from 
instinct, but, on the contrary, from spirit. 
Art is one of the proper activities of the Spirit. 
That manifestation of human Intelligence which 
is termed artistic genius is not, then, an artificial 
product, a fantasy, a superfluity which has 
but a relative and distant connection with the 
ethical development of society. Artistic genius 
is inherent in the phenomena of life, as beauty 
is inherent in the manifestation of the universe. 

It is because they forget that Art is a civilising 
force, the roots of which are deeply buried in 
the origins of the human soul, that most states- 
men to-day, and such as represent the popular 
power, adopt generally a mean and superficial 
view of aesthetics. 

of Art 125 

Likewise, because they have forgotten the 
essence of aesthetics and the mission of art in 
the world, the majority of artists to-day put 
their talents at the service of inferior emotions 
and ugliness. 

Of what use, then, are the schools of Fine 
Arts, in which the beauty of Form is taught, 
if social life ceases to be impregnated with 
this beauty and if artists themselves turn their 
talents in the direction of the ugly and common- 
place ? 

Of what use are museums, if they are crowded 
with works in which bad taste predominates, 
and from which the artist's intelligence is 
absent ? 

A great English writer on aesthetics and 
socialism, John Ruskin, spoke truly when he 
wrote : " The ugly must be fought even to the 
life, and, after being banished from its own 
dreams, must be expelled from reality." 

Indeed, aesthetic ideas could always be 
applied to social ideas. Writers on socialism 
ought at the same time to be cognisant of 
art, if they wish to become perfect organisers 
of human life. 

The beautiful is inseparable from social life. 

The search for social happiness of necessity 
causes beauty to flourish. 

Wretched and barbarous peoples, we know, 
have no art. The social harmony is not com- 
plete — it is not possible, I may say, without 

126 The Social Influence 

the manifestation of art, which is the flower 
and joy of the world. 

Why is that ? Because the Beautiful is 
intimately allied with the Good ; because the 
Beautiful is the visible form of universal Love. 

The social and moral world are the same 
thing. Art has its share in both. 

Thus an immense responsibility weighs on 
the statesman, the writer on socialism, and 
at the same time the artist. 

On one side, when the powers of the state 
do not encourage the most elevated expression 
of art, they do harm to one of the vital forces 
of the spirit ; on the other side, when artists 
are satisfied with representing something 
inferior and trivial, they compromise art, and 
fail in their ideal and social duty. 

This idea of (esthetic duty from a social 
point of view must seem paradoxical. 

However, it is easy to understand that this 
duty is based upon the social principle of art 
itself, and that the social principle of beauty 
assumes a powerful aspect when we know how 
to disengage it from the depths of the activities 
in which it is hidden under the accumulation 
of external appearances. 

If in society we take account of the collective 
effort in the differing manifestation of intellec- 
tual energy, we are struck by this : — 

The doctor, though a professional man, fulfils 
his social duty by fighting against Disease. 

of Art 127 

The statesman fulfils his by fighting against 

The lawyer, or the magistrate, fights against 

The advocate does his duty by fighting for 
the Right. 

The duty of the Savant is to fight against 

Add together these sensible energies, which 
really constitute, not mere lucrative professions, 
but harmonizing activities, fighting against 
ignorance, misery, disease, injustice, against 
all the discordant elements that disturb social 
harmony, working, that is, towards the realiza- 
tion of a maximum of Beauty in the world, 
and you will see that the end and function 
of all human effort, all social energy, all 
professional activity, is to realise the greatest 
possible sum of harmony, of beauty. Moral 
Beauty and aesthetic Beauty complete one 

Beauty is the culminating phenomenon among 
the phenomena of life, since it contains in 
itself the immanence and the infinitude of 
Perfection, the end of the whole cosmic and 
human Evolution. 

Looked at from this point of view, it becomes 
easy indeed to understand the value of the 
social principle of Beaut}*' and of Art, which 
seems at the same time to be a principle of 
evolution and perfection. 

128 The Social Influence 

To desire that the world should be beautiful, 
that life should be beautiful, to wish that the 
fine arts should shed their calm inspiring lustre 
on society, is to desire the Good of humanity. 

If, then, the splendid and barren fortunes 
which are the disgrace of certain wealthy 
persons could be utilised in producing the 
greatest social Beauty, could advance, that is, 
the living Art of a people, an immense stride 
would be made in human progress. 

It was a subtle philosopher and very observant 
psychologist who said : " Perhaps the cult of 
beautiful things is the surest guide to the solution 
of social problems." And, indeed, from the 
contemplation of beautiful things spring joy 
and happiness. They that show admiration 
are good. Great artists, in spite of their vicissi- 
tudes, have had happy lives. 

Wherever a man, or a people, have nothing 
to admire, they grow blase and become boorish. 

So, then, we may say that aesthetic admira- 
tion is to be included among the catalogue of 
social remedies. 

Every time that a man finds himself face to 
face with a great work of art, he seems to grow 
in stature, a kind of inner light renders his 
consciousness more receptive, he experiences 
the delightful and disturbing sensation of being 
enriched with intelligence, goodness, and love. 
This is because the very nature of aesthetic 
emotion does not constitute merely a pleasure, 

of Art 129 

but the elevation of life, morally and spiritually. 
Unconsciously, the vibration of the feeling of 
admiration has awakened in him one of the 
spiritual principles of his inner being, for it 
is not on the senses alone that the sentiment 
of beauty depends, but it is the spirit that 
perceives Beauty, Harmony, and vibrates in 
agreement with them ! 

This, I am aware, will seem somewhat 
romantic to such as have a materialistic and 
physiological view of art, completely ignoring 
the occult psychology of man, since it is just 
their incurable ignorance of occultism which 
characterises the " esthetes du protoplasme." 

To most people art means sensuality. They 
only expect from art an agreeable visual 
sensation, in the physical sense of the word. 
And when, despite themselves, they feel in 
their heart all the mystery appertaining to a 
work in which some artist of genius has known 
how to render visible the mysterious power of 
the spirit, they turn a deaf ear to that supreme 
revelation which art breathes on their blunted 

So many modern psychologists endeavour 
unsuccessfully to define the nature of aesthetic 
emotion because their arguments are based 
upon purely physical data. The result has been 
a veritable materialisation of art, and artists, 
imbued with baneful theories, think that they 
do well to appeal only to the incoherence of 


130 The Social Influence 

their lower nature. This phase, fortunately, 
is drawing to a close. In spite of everything, 
the conception of art is becoming more elevated 
and new aspirations are appearing. Psycholo- 
gists and philosophers are beginning to declare 
that " the cesthetic sense is the great force of true 
spiritual life." Truly, art is the working of 
spirit on matter. 

The harmonies of nature correspond to the 
harmonies of existence. 

Art is the expression of mysterious affinities. 

If it is true that the plastic arts display 
to us material beauties by means of the senses, 
it is truer still that the aesthetic pleasure 
derived from the contemplation of these 
beauties affects the soul, the spirit, much more 
than the senses themselves. The aesthetic 
sense is an inner faculty of man, a faculty 
which permits him to feel again in the presence 
of material beauty psychic and non-material 

The object of art, then, is rather to cause 
man to perceive the essential reality of things. 
And the immateriality of things can be only 
perceived and understood by the immaterial 
principle of intelligence and spirit. 

If, as certain critics of art still imagine, the 
sense of beauty depended merely on physical 
sensation, the coarsest and most sensual natures 
would be the greatest artists and surest 

of Art 131 

Now, it is not difficult to recognize that 
the contrary is the case. Are not, moreover, 
those persons, in whom imagination as a rule 
has power over the senses — for Imagination is 
a superior faculty to the senses — those that show 
themselves most ready, not only in their percep- 
tion of the manifold and subtle aspects of the 
beautiful, but likewise in creating it ? 

Since it is averred that the artist is improved 
by his art, and that his art has an elevating 
influence on the human soul, is it not, therefore, 
indispensable to endeavour unceasingly to raise 
the level of Art, and should not artists strive 
to reach a higher level of sensibility ? 

The artist, instead of seeking an easy success 
in the mere mechanical production of works 
almost identical and in which the creative 
activities of the spirit are no longer to be 
distinguished, would do better both as an artist 
and man of intelligence in attempting to bring 
about the proper evolution of his art. 

True artists are not those who paint or 
produce sculpture to gratify an instinctive 
pleasure in sculpture or painting. True artists, 
whether they be painters, sculptors, architects, 
or musicians, are those who have discovered 
how to construct for themselves an ideal of 
Beauty with the spiritual energies of their 
being and the natural forces of life. Like the 
mystics, who, by dint of the ideal they looked 
to, ended by discovering in themselves " that 

132 The Social Influence 

wonderful power of transformation by which 
man himself become that which he worships," 
so true artists reflect in their works the ideal 
which they have placed before them. 

Most artists have a vulgar and flippant 
view of art. Their psychology exactly reflects 
the middle-class ideas to which, with a com- 
promising facility, they complaisantly adapt 
themselves. Those are rare who have the courage 
to sacrifice their artistic egoism on the altar 
of art to resume it in the hey-day of success. 
Mediocre artists, like the vulgar, instinctively 
avoid great art because they find that it needs 
too much unselfishness. They are afraid of it 
— as a fool is afraid in the presence of a man 
of genius. 

How many artists are there who understand 
the social and human import of their vocation, 
and who say, as Schiller so neatly put it : 
" Beauty should be brought forward as a necessary 
condition of mankind I " 

There are many men who paint pictures, 
and many who produce sculpture, whose hands 
are not illumined by the great pure light of 
Art, whose souls remain unexalted by the 
love of Beauty. 

Is it not rather by employing ideal themes 
raised above inferior and commonplace con- 
tingencies that artists will exert a much 
wider influence on the moral life of the 
people ? 

of Art 133 

Michelet said truly : " The birth of genius 
is a type of social birth. The soul of a man of 
genius, that visibly divine soul, since it creates 
like God, is the inner state on which should be 
modelled the outer state, in order that it should 
be divine likewise." 

Nothing will prevent art from generally 
playing in society more and more the part of 
an educational force, conscious of its mission. 

The time has come to infuse society with 
art, the ideal, and the beautiful. Society now- 
a-days tends to depend too much upon instinct. 
It is saturated with materialism, sensualism, 
and commercialism. 

Modern art has been used too much as a 
pretext for all the impure and neurotic ugliness 
of the times. The prevalence of uninspired 
realistic and imitative productions — whether 
impressionist or not — is the disturbing result 
of what was otherwise a salutary reaction 
against the old academic formulae. 

Too many mediocre artists take advantage 
of the confused ideas of the day, and the concep- 
tion of art, with its splendid plastic and ideologic 
possibilities, is seriously compromised thereby. 
" Modernism," instead of being a broadening, 
a more complete expansion of all the artistic 
faculties in the domain of universal beauty, 
has really become a levelling and narrowing 
influence. Naturalism, that great artistic 
calamity, does not understand Nature. It 

134 The Social Influence 

has only imitated ugly and material things. 
Those who still claim acquaintance with her, 
and those — a little ashamed of her — who hide 
under the mask of impressionism, are wanting 
in clairvoyance. They do not see indeed that 
pictural ideology, the great decorative and monu- 
mental idealism, is beyond any academic 
servitude, is a wholly modern art, and which 
even ought to be considered as the synthetic 
and social art of the future. The symbol of 
modern times is thought, as the sign of future 
times will be spirit. All evolution of human 
activities contend with the effort being made 
to free mankind from the inert fatality of 
matter. The only true glory of this world is 
the knowledge that, by victory over matter, 
we draw nearer to wisdom, truth, and beauty. 
Matter has no real existence beyond the oppor- 
tunity it affords us of struggling against its 
attraction and illusion. Every chef d'ceuvre 
is not an imitation of, but a victory over, 
matter. This is not a paradox. It is the key 
to the whole of creation, to all evolution. It 
is, too, the very sense of Art, the vital element 
of which should be Thought in its manifold and 
varied plastic expression. 

Rodin, the most modern of artists, is the most 
thoughtful (le plus penseur) . And as he is the most 
thoughtful, so he has the greatest plastic power! 

Thought, therefore, whatever certain flippant 
sensualists and unthinking academicians may 

of Art 135 

say, far from being incompatible with the 
exigencies of the visual plasticity of art, is, on 
the contrary, its true vital and creative element. 
Has the profound thought of De Vinci 
paralysed his technical power ? Never. On 
the contrary, plastic perfection is exhibited 
in the works of the great Florentine with a 
magic greater as his thought is more subtle 
and profound. It is not true, therefore, that 
realism alone brings about Realisation. 

How long is it that the artist has been dull- 
souled and ignorant ? Since realism has for- 
bidden him to have a brain and imagination. 
But times are changed. 

In face of an sestheticism lacking health and 
vigour, without aim, without ideal, which has 
too long kept its place merely to satisfy the fads 
of a snobbish " elite " at feud with the bour- 
geoisie, it is consoling to know that ideas of 
art are becoming broader. A new generation, 
scornful at once of " flamingatisme " and 
" libre-esthetisme," those two aspects of art 
so devoid of greatness and beauty, is daily 
asserting its creative desires turned in the 
direction of the great symbols of life and 
human ideas. 

To narrowly and selfishly foster one's own 
" personality " in the hothouses of " estheti- 
comanie," or wallow brutishly in the sensual 
sloth of a national antiquated tradition, what 
can be less likely to produce a Beauty possessed 

136 The Social Influence 

of power ! The true Moderns are not those 
who, with a shameless perversity, are pleased 
with contemporary things through degraded 
notions of art. The true Moderns are those 
who, understanding in short the plastic value 
of Ideas, know that art ought to illumine the 
soul of society instead of being content with 
reflecting it. True aesthetic culture, really 
modern art, lies in that. And that is the 
renaissance of great Art. 

Very significant symptoms of artistic intellec- 
tuality have triumphantly appeared on all sides 
— in England, Germany, France, Be^ium, and 

With regard to what more particularly 
concerns our country,* whose growing intellec- 
tual evolution is daily tending to widen the 
artistic horizon, it may be said that what 
Chauvinistic criticism still calls " Flemish 
Painting " is becoming more and more an 
obvious anachronism. What constitutes the 
glory of the painting of the past, the traditional 
splendours of the early Flemings and the 
period of Rubens, is continued wretchedly 
enough in the guise of a realism that lacks its 
grandeur. If the so-called " Flemish Painting " 
is still carried on in a dull, lifeless way by 
certain landscape, animal, and genre painters 
wanting in soul and intelligence, it is no less 
true that, in spite of old-fashioned prejudices, 

* Belgium. 

of Art 137 

the artistic genius of the Belgian race has for 
some time assumed a new aspect and more 
elevated expression. 

This tendency is in no way accidental or 
foreign to the temperament of the race. It is, 
on the contrary, a national phenomenon, which 
is manifesting itself naturally, because Belgium, 
freed at last from the grip of historical domina- 
tions which drained her personal vigour, is 
again becoming conscious of her strength, of 
her true regenerated personality as a race. 

Belgian Art is about to take flight anew to 
a loftier sphere. All the immense and rich fund 
of imagination and idealism so stored with 
pictorial genius, choked and paralysed, and for 
so long under the incubus of an easy-going feeble 
psychology, will when the time comes emerge 
with an impetus which will cause surprise. 
Sculpture, which has not had to submit, as 
has been the case with painting, to the tyranny 
of the " Flemish " tradition, has already proved 
that the Belgian view of art can rise to the 
most sublime and powerful creations. It is 
the same with literature, which likewise not 
having to drag with it the paralysing weight 
of a Flemish tradition, has leapt, with splendid 
and powerful strokes of the wings, into the 
world of ideas. Painting, the most character- 
istic expression of the Belgian soul, its native 
gift, is about to improve in its turn. And it will 
be surprising to behold how wealthy are the 

138 The Social Influence 

resources of pictorial genius, when it is definitely 
attempting to realise something broader and 
more ideal.* 

The themes of plastic representation are 
renewed under the form of great decorative 
art, and painting, adapting even the ancient 
myths to its living ideas, again assumes its 
monumental and social function. 

Camille Mauclair, in his remarkable study on 
" The Symbolic Painting of the Future," has 
likewise eloquently claimed the supreme rights 
of art with regard to imagination and ideology, 
showing all the new elements of beauty that 
social life and modern thought bring to the 
realization of great art. 

And, indeed, new and splendid harmonies 
of colour and line can be created by the symbo- 
lisation of modern ideas and be applied to the 
necessities of artistic ornamentation. 

Art is in accord with the exigencies of all ages 
and all nations, and all ages and all nations are 
capable of expressing themselves in their art. 
Incompatibility only exists in the personal 
powerlessness of adapting one and the other. 

Narrow utilitarians have stupidly rejected 
the beauty of the useful, as if those two elements 
of social activity were incompatible likewise. 
Now they are inseparable ; for what impartially 

* This, too, is what one of our most learned writers on art, M. Fierens- 
Gevaert, has been at pains to show, with rare eloquence and enlightened 
enthusiasm, in his recent course of lectures on " Art in the Nineteenth 
Century : its Expression in Belgium." 

of Art 139 

contributes to utility must inevitably realise 
the beautiful. 

It is from a more perfect conception even 
of utility and a purer conception of beauty that 
more harmonious groupings of mankind will 
be formed and states become beautified. 

Just as art must be re-established in the heart, 
brain, soul of artists and all men, so also must 
the social principle of art be recognised likewise. 
Artists, like poets, are only useful to humanity 
so far as they cause by their Art the highest 
thoughts, the highest sentiments, the highest 
aspirations, to be more easily perceived. 

In the hierarchy of the higher national 
forces, the Artist, like the Savant, represents 
public Thought (la Pensee publique). 

The multitude, whatever some may say, is 
moved by great things, because the emotions 
of the multitude are pure and healthy. It is 
enough to display before it things beautiful 
and sublime, to cause the multitude, without 
proper comprehension analytically speaking, to 
be touched by them. It is clear that there exists 
a popular " instinct," but I am much more 
certain that this anonymous force which is 
so termed is by no means an absolutely obscure 
and blind force, and that the soul of the multi- 
tude is illumined by the inner light of intuition. 

What a mysterious and profound faculty 
indeed is this immense intuition of a people ! 
How strangely analogous it is to genius ! 

140 The Social Influence 

The multitude understands genius, and 
genius understands the multitude. Between that 
collective consciousness and that individual con- 
sciousness there exists a mighty affinity. 

The link which binds together the soul of 
genius and the soul of the multitude is the 
divine perception of the Beautiful. It is Art 
in its social manifestation. 

A truth too easily overlooked is that the 
mission of all the arts consists in the represen- 
tation of Ideas. 

"Metaphysics!" those who at present 
represent " panbeotisme " will scornfully reply. 

No one, however, who is at all conscious of 
aesthetic phenomena will deny that the repre- 
sentative arts, such as Architecture, Painting, 
Sculpture, show us the hidden travail of Ideas, 
imprisoned in the materialist conception of 
art. Now, there is no better example for a people 
than that in which is shown objectively the 
influence of the artistic creation which civilised 
man has at his disposal. Humanity knows 
how to derive from this example of beauty 
clearly springing from matter considerable 
moral energy, because the dignity of the human 
being is measured, not only by the quality of 
his actions, but also by the degree of creative 
force of which he feels himself capable. 

The mystery of art is felt by the multitude 
in the same degree as creative power emanates 
from the production of the artist. 

of Art 14 1 

It is in face of the realisation of beauty 
that the profound feeling for Construction, 
an intellectual faculty inherent in the human 
type, is revealed and confirmed. 

Man is essentially a constructor and creator 
in the widest, most ideal, and most aesthetic 
sense, and the arts generally are the external 
evidences of his innate construction and 
creative powers. The whole surface of the 
planet offers us the spectacle of human creation 
changing in its sense of the beautiful. Even 
among the ruins of extinct civilisations there 
still lingers, like an everlasting enchantment, 
amid the chaos of time-worn stones, the genius 
of the creative power of beauty, an undying 
flower of human intelligence. 

The Ideas incarnated in beautiful forms do 
not, then, perish, since we find the essence of 
them again in the material vestiges of the Past. 

Truly, therefore, the mission of all the arts 
consists in the representation of Ideas. 

Popular art, then, is again concerned with 
one of the most harmonious activities of life, 
since the construction and beautifying of 
human states offers men a magnificent oppor- 
tunity of exhibiting, in visible splendour and 
harmony, the essential Ideas which govern the 
construction and divine creation of worlds. 

Ancient India, Chaldea, Egypt, Persia, 
Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Middle Ages, 
the Renaissance, are perpetuated in the memory 

142 The Social Influence 

of modern peoples, thanks to what they have 
left us of art, public art, art in its social mani- 

The beauty and grandeur of those mighty 
aspects of the soul, which we call ancient 
civilisations, is still displayed in their remains. 

Art, indeed, enters into the very life of a 
civilisation, into its civil and religious life, with 
the energy and pantheistic beauty of a natural 
force. The soul and thought of a people is 
impressed on its monuments, from the soul of 
the Ancient East, so full of splendour and 
metaphysics, as exhibited in her colossal 
palaces and temples, to the Christian and 
devotional soul of the West, transfused in the 
sombre majesty of its religious and civil 

It seems that a mysterious and splendid force 
is ever urging great peoples to stamp the 
wealth of their intelligence and activities on 
a form of beauty. 

In all great cities there spring from the 
earth, as though by a kind of lasting artistic 
miracle, gorgeous and massive edifices, which 
sum up the splendour of an epoch, the visible 
aspect of its Ideas. 

Who will one day tell us the profound 
psychology of the monument ? 

Who will tell us the secret of that creative power 
of Art, that innate need of Beauty in human 
societies, ever apparent in the inexhaustible 

of Art 143 

imagination of the artist, the artisan, and who 
will be able to transform the need into a Fairy, 
the Fairy of ^Esthetics ! 

The artist and artisan, exercising upon 
matter the inventive impulse of their imagina- 
tion, and at the same time making it conform 
to the necessities of space and time, are only 
making the human Idea manifest itself in 

Beauty, indeed, is a higher social need. 

All substances, gold, silver, stone, silk, paint, 
wood, marble, iron, etc., which receive the 
double impress, mental and manual, of the 
^Esthetic Will, are used to gratify this social 
need of Beauty. 

Every excavation made in the vast empire 
of buried ruins brings to light, to the growing 
wonder of modern peoples, the glorious example 
of human effort towards the Beautiful, thus 
bearing witness that art is an activity of 
man's spirit that cannot be checked and cannot 
be exhausted. Whatever may be the particular 
character of race or age, whatever may be 
its standard of social evolution, the constructive 
and artistic genius of humanity shows itself. 

That original genius can be seen as well 
in the primitive decayed lake-dwellings as in 
the splendour of the architecture of Babylon. 
The same innate power in man is revealed 
by the obscure and patient pile-builders of the 
lake cities as by the Assyrians who hewed, 

144 Tne Social Influence of Art 

in the Chaldean quarries, their tremendous 
monolithic marble blocks. 

To build, to adorn, to decorate, what won- 
drous powers of human intelligence ! 

Thus the phenomenon of aesthetics, con- 
tinually to be seen in the private and public 
life of societies, far from causing the public 
powers and States of the present and future 
to be indifferent, ought to be hailed as a social 
benefit and as one of the noblest aspects of 
human activity. 

Can they take into account the utility 
of the existence of a body like that of the 
International Institute of Public Art ? * Can 
they answer its appeal by helping not to increase 
the ugliness which threatens modern life, by 
waiting for Beauty to spring up everywhere, 
and for Harmony to become something like 
a State Religion ! 

* It will not be out of place here to recall that the" International 
Institute of Public Art " has been founded in Brussels by a Belgian artist, 
M. Eugene Broerman, to whom belongs the honour of having been able 
to get together, as a protest against the degradation of Public Beauty, an 
influential group of leading international personalities, whose aim is to 
struggle against the indifference and ignorance of the powers that be in 
matters appertaining to social aesthetics. By a unanimous vote passed at 
the last Congress of Public Art at Liege, in 1903, an important inter- 
national illustrated review of public art has been set on foot at Brussels, 
and will shortly appear, sumptuously produced and ably edited. 



[To /ace page 145. 

The Creed and the Critics 

Analogy between works of Genius — The Atavism of Tradition — Personality 
of the Artist unhampered by Tradition — The Artist not a Creator, 
but a Discoverer — Art creates the Artist — Great Thinkers and Great 
Artists obey the same Laws — Ignorance of Modern Criticism — 
Destruction of the Harmonising Social Influence of Art — Corrupt 
Art indicative of Corrupt Morality — Idealism the Continuation of 
" Naturism " — Art an Emotion and an Instinct — No Definite Style 
prescribed by Idealism — Style the Signature of the Individual, the 
Impress of the Soul, the Real Presence of Beauty — Bond between 
Science and Art — Danger of " Art for Art's Sake " — Indestructibility 
of Beauty. 

A TRUTH, that many artists foolishly 
despise, because they do not understand, 
or pretend to be ignorant of, since it 
is easier to create " novelty " than " beauty," 
is the fruitful influence of Tradition, that 
golden chain spoken of by Homer, the Initiate, 
which creates a bond between men of genius, 
though of a dissimilar nature, here below, 
though as far apart as the poles, and separated 
by centuries, as Wagner and iEschylus for 

Who has not been struck by the mysterious 
analogy between immortal works of genius ? 
The relationship between masterpieces suggests 
the remarkable influence of heredity. The 
different phases of evolution, which alone 
classifies them and which contributed to bring 
them forth, has never been able to destroy 
this relationship, which I am willing to call the 
atavism of tradition. But this Tradition, if 


146 The Creed and 

I may further insist upon it, does not extinguish 
individuality, does not restrict personal evolu- 
tion. It is not a Procrustean bed which the 
personality is forcibly made to fit. Instead 
of being the revenge of age on all that is young 
and vigorous, Tradition is the result of experi- 
ence, the sum of centuries of knowledge ; it 
is the same eternal truth soaring on high, the 
cyclic unity round which revolves the perpetual 
motion of human genius. 

All the masters comprehended — " compre- 
hension is the reflex of creation," as Villiers has 
said! — or knew of the abyss that lies between 
reality and art, and that the artist must leap 
this abyss with his thought if he wishes his 
work to be. Beauty has no being where nature 
and spirit are not linked in the harmony which 
governs their seeming contrast. 

Yes, in a work the harmony of the senses 
and thought should be perfect. The artist who 
does not know how to find in himself the inter- 
mediate manifestation between his instinct and 
his consciousness will never completely attain 
to a masterpiece. 

And this is as precise as the mathematical 
sanctity of numbers : just as the expansion 
of a principle in substance produces life, the 
expression of an idea in form produces beauty. 

Neither the artist nor inventor create : they 
discover or re-discover pre-existing laws, inde- 
pendently of their intellectual power, but 

the Critics 147 

which they explain or manifest according to 
the receptive value of their personality. 

There exist somewhere, around us, without 
or within us, in the depths of the unseen world, 
spheres where are formed the eternal images 
reflected in our intellects, and which the artist 
or poet filch from Mystery by the magic power 
of their imagination, that mysterious divine 
faculty which must be known in order to be 
in tune with the harmony of the World. 

" The Artist does not create Art, but he 
throws into confusion its divine harmony in 
society when Art does not make the artist. 
Now, for Art to make the Artist the Science of 
Art must exist, and this last plays the part of 
a religion or synthesis of sciences." 

Clear logic and plain truth like this statement 
by Saint Yves d'Alveydre * no one would 
venture to deny without danger of going astray ! 
Furthermore, these words are of greater value 
when we consider that they come neither from 
a professional critic nor unreliable virtuoso. 
Far from being an impostor, he who said it 
was one of those rare transcendental beings 
who have nestled against the bosom of the 
Sphinx to hear the heart of mystery beat the 

When such a man speaks it is because he 
has something to say, and the words he utters 

* St. Yves d'Alveydre, an eminent writer on esoteric philosophy, 
lately dead. An important work by him is " La Mission des Juifs." 

148 The Creed and 

always shed light ; which indeed never happens 
when the growing swarms of aesthetics try to 
debase the dignity of Art to their mean compre- 
hension and low bourgeois taste. 

The broad paraphrase of Saint Yves, there 
is no doubt, is intended to appeal to the 
weakened understanding of contemporary 
artists and critics. Both, stained with the 
mire of a confused and barren system of art, 
can, nevertheless, if they take the trouble to 
think about it, gain some insight from it, and 
be thus again enabled to tread the fair avenues 
that wind around the vast and splendid gardens 
of Art. 

These few lines, indeed, extracted from a 
weighty work on esoteric sociology and full 
of learned philosophy, and which it would be 
well if some of our smart writers would use as 
their daily paper or keep at their bedside, 
solve nearly the whole problem of Esthetics. 

I know that some will argue in the face of 
its clear masterly logic, being convinced before- 
hand that it is in no way necessary to try 
to settle this problem, and that it is better to 
go on instinctively daubing canvases which are 
of the least possible utility to the human race. 

Others, as dull, will call in question the 
competence of an esoteric in matters of art, 
and argue that the artist need not receive 
laws from anybody, after the manner of 
Nature, which, it may be said parenthetically, 

the Critics 149 

reverently fulfils the laws prescribed by God ! 
It may be observed, nevertheless, that the ideas 
of great thinkers agree with those of great 
artists. This is because, consciously or intui- 
tively, they are filled with the same light, 
and their genius, though different in character, 
tends towards the same goal. 

Do not the " Organon " and the Parthenon, 
using different methods of expression, lay down 
the same sovereign laws for science and beauty ? 

Do not the Sistine Chapel and the Divine 
Commedia utter the same word of the immensity 
of the other world ? Are not Plato and Raphael 
essentially saying the same thing ? And does 
not the same ideal influence glow in Wagner's 
Parsifal and Lacuria's " Harmonies of Exist- 
ence ? " 

But if there exists such an obvious identity 
of thought between men of genius, of the same 
power but differing in their method of expression, 
can we doubt that the same luminous breath 
— the Divine Breath — wafts, to the mystic 
and absolute goal of perfection and beauty, 
the creative spirit of the most precious of beings : 
the thinkers and artists ! 

The reason is because, above the whirlwind 
and chaos of error, the sacred Ideal which they 
venerate guides them and holds before the 
eye of the soul the sacred torch of Tradition, 
in order to light them in their progress towards 

150 The Creed and 

And it is above all in our time of civilised 
barbarism and intellectual darkness, in which 
the anarchical negation of principles is so 
supreme, that we can more easily see the 
shining path traced by the bright elect of the 
human ideal on the dawn-tinged sky of the 
ages. If I insist so much on the perfect analogy 
between the various views that great men have 
of all that has reference to the essential mission 
of aesthetics, it is in order to warn the reader 
against that inevitable puerile objection which 
is always employed by the dull-witted, and 
which claims that a philosopher, whether an 
initiate or not, ought not to intrude into the 
" business " of Art ! 

To-day all that is settled, one way or another, 
by the trivial criticism of the papers. And woe 
to the artist who does not side with their 
views ! Woe to him who dares to make a wry 
face at the fine dish of artistic hash which is 
daily prepared ! They will know how to make 
him swallow all the venom of their backbiting 
and the poison of their malice ! 

Indeed, the legion of critics — I say legion 
because the number of petty critics is equivalent 
to the incalculable number of failures — forms 
its judgment, not on the artistic principles of 
the great masters, nor on those of great thinkers, 
but are content like sheep to follow stupidly 
that polluted stream of chance or caprice known 
as the vogue. These trivial critics, and with 

the Critics 151 

them, the whole brainless company of impostors, 
are in fact ignorant of the Goal and the Mission 
of Art. 

Ignorant of the sublime raison d'etre that 
gives them the mysterious Law of Beauty as 
their guide, instead of seeking the Truth they 
only indulge in idle claptrap. Should a work 
or line of thought come under their notice 
conveying any suggestion of a higher life, 
or whose form or conception possesses an ideal 
significance, it will escape their dull stolid minds, 
and they will prefer the stupid ugliness of some 
painting in which, amid tricks of the palette 
and vulgarity of conception, no idealism is 
apparent ! 

With the soul hermetically closed to the 
sacred things of Beauty, and urged by some 
morbid instinct or other towards the ugly 
and commonplace, these critics, whose paltry 
opinions exercise such a dangerous influence 
on the public mind, never hesitate to decry 
the idealist creed with its synthesis and uni- 
versality, proclaiming as it does the ideal of 
plastic form, that is to say, of abstract beauty, 
and able to regenerate Art, in order to extol 
the creed of individualism, naturalism, and 
nationalism, which are calculated to bring about 
the absolute degradation of Art. 

Between the productions of idealism, carried 
out by a hand at once cunning and sensitive, 
and where country, place, time, race, and 

152 The Creed and 

things are lost sight of that they may be found 
again in the universal significance of their 
characterisation, under the living idealism of 
synthesis, and the productions of realism and 
impressionism in which all the essential aesthetic 
qualities are wanting, so as to leave room for 
a clever and speedy process, delicacy of touch, 
and sparkle (flamingdtisnie) of colour, the minor 
critics, with their narrow views, are in no doubt 
which to acclaim ! 

Between Rembrandt,* that arch-magician 
(Kabbaliste) of painting, whom some simple 
folk still rate as a realist, who transfigured 
beings and things under the magic influence of 
his inner sight, and Hals, that merry rascal, 
the painter of revellers and swash-bucklers, 
that wonderfully skilful delineator of nothing- 
ness, the buyers of art do not hesitate in their 
choice ! 

And it is under the remarkable excuse that 
a painter ought to paint that they prefer the 
craftsman to the artist ! It is true that these 
gentlemen have never asked themselves on 
what ground Raphael is an inferior painter to 
Jordaens,f or Vandyck, a greater painter than 
De Vinci. We are inclined to think that their 
ideas on this head would be extremely diverting. 

Until they can explain this, they will continue 
to drag Art and artist down to their own level. 

* Rembrandt (1607-1669), Dutch ; Franz Hals (1584-1666), Flemish. 
t Jacob Jordaens (1594-1678), Flemish painter, pupil of Rubens ; 
religious and mythical subjects. 

the Critics 153 

For these are they who cause the confusion in 
aesthetics which marks our age. Esthetics 
without aesthetics, genteel triflers, foes of 
harmony, noisy demagogues, upholders of 
instinct, wild irresponsibles, incompetent 
quacks, sneering eclectics, amateur judges, 
idle daubers, wretched failures, wrongheaded 
artists, and foolish critics — these form the 
heterogeneous mass which represents the 
miserable idea of art at the present day. I 
have already said above, and I repeat it here 
again, that we may form a clear judgment 
with regard to the intellectual and moral 
standard of a people, a race, or an age, from 
its art. How will the future judge us ? Alas, 
to look at the mournful display at our triennial 
shows, those great official fairs, to see the 
majority of our private drawing-rooms, those 
shows on a small scale, where we are free 
to exhibit the marvels of painting in all the 
confusion arising from a spurious " individual- 
ism ' ' in art, to behold the general stupor and 
complete lack of power which most works 
exhibit, it is not difficult to form an opinion, 
with a sorrowful glance, of the condition of 
soul and spirit in this age of materialism. 
In fact there is no longer thought, style, or 
technique ! No Beauty either in idea, or form, 
or execution ! We see that Art no longer creates 
the artist, but that it is the artist who wishes 
to create Art. And in the judicious phrase 

i54 The Creed and 

of Saint Yves d'Alveydre, it is clear that " the 
artist is throwing into confusion the divine 
harmony of Art in society, when Art does not 
make the artist ! " 

Art withers and dies when the idea of Per- 
fection, which is the condition of our psychic 
life and even of that of our works, is absent. 
Every time that Art falls into decay and becomes 
puerile, it is because the part played by the 
artistic genius of a race or age undergoes a 
change simultaneously with the corruption of 
its moral genius. Now — and so much the worse 
for those who do not perceive it — we are 
passing through such a period of depression. 
It was inevitable. Like all that deviates from 
the mighty impulse towards harmony, from 
that living love of unfading and fertile Beauty, 
all that rebels against that universal movement 
which forms the flux and reflux of eternal 
and divine laws bearing within themselves the 
elements of durable creations, all that runs 
counter to order, which is the consciousness 
of the world and our being, Modern Art, 
degraded by its illicit intercourse with material- 
ism, bears within it the seeds of death. 

There have been men, crabbed theorists, 
who, unconscious of the errors of an incomplete 
and materialistic philosophy, have proclaimed 
the absolute freedom of instinct, denying 
principles, theories, laws, denying, in short, 
the science of Art ! Rightly aiming at a reaction 

the Critics 155 

against the barren conventions of academic 
training, but overstepping in their ardour 
the limits of legitimate reaction, it followed 
that these men, though in a different way, 
fell into the same mistake. The impressionist 
school, which at the present is supreme, excel- 
lent though it may be in intention, since it 
has managed to clean the mud from the palette, 
has confined the practice of art to degrading 
trivialities by restricting the powers of the 
artist. Born with the taint of realism, these 
good people assume that a picture should take 
the place of a mirror, and should repeat natural 
objects with the most absolute fidelity. That 
is the business of the inferior. 

Exhibitions and museums of modern art 
afford a painful commentary on this subject, 
and one is as much overcome with nausea by 
the shameless perpetrations of men like Ensor, 
Monet,* Seurat, and Gauguin, who, under the 
pretence of freedom in art, with the silly 
approbation of ignoramuses, frame the most 
shocking studio daubs, as by the photographic 
"cliches" of Meissonnier and Van Beers ! f 
The disgust has become so symptomatic and 
so general that a reaction has arisen among 

* Claude Monet and Gauguin, both French Impressionist painters. 
Monet (b. 1840) may be termed the leader and founder of the school, since 
its name is said to have been derived from a landscape of his entitled " An 
Impression." His work is solely landscape. 

t Meissonnier (1815-91), French, historical and military subjects, 
mostly on small scale and of elaborate finish. Van Beers, Belgian, delineator 
of feminine coquetry. 

156 The Creed and 

new literary centres. Ill-distinguished from 
" Naturalism," and with its feet still clogged 
with the mire out of which Zola moulded 
material for his novels, " Naturism "is a 
logical evolution, of which " idealism " is the 
central continuation or culminating point. In 
this mystic pantheism, in the limbs of which 
the ' naturists ' seem still plunged, it is easy 
to recognise the beginnings of a definite move- 
ment towards complete Idealism. One of them 
has already proclaimed the necessity of 
"harmony," of "proportion" The divine 
sense of natural objects corresponds with the 
aesthetic sense of most people, in spite of the 
gross prejudice in which they still persist, of 
thinking that it is necessary to know how to 
incarnate the national aspirations of a people 
in order that art should become " heroic," 
or be the synthetic expression of life. 

It is idealist art, above all, that soars above 
limitations, that truly realises life in all its 
fulness, since it enables the Universal to be seen 
in the individual. This definition, however, 
must not be confused with the allegorical 
expression of the idea. If form without idea 
is of small value in art, idea without form is 
not worth much more. The artist is he who 
produces depth of feeling, and knows how to 
transmit this feeling into the domain of the 
will : one is impossible without the other. 
First there is the state of passive emotional 

the Critics 157 

receptivity, and then that of active intellectual 
conceptivity. From these two functions 
working in harmony springs the work of idealist 
art. The artist allows the powerful instincts 
which move the natural world to sink into his 
heart, and absorbs into his soul the powerful 
ideas which move the spiritual world. The work 
of art is at once an emotion and an instinct. 
Separated, or allowed to run riot, these two 
divine movements become, one of them amor- 
phous, the other conventional. Someone has 
said that Art is Nature continuing her work 
in the Spirit. We might reverse the definition 
and say : Art is the Spirit continuing its work 
in Nature. Inspiration is not, as some pretend, 
the dazzled bewilderment of the Spirit, but the 
supreme moment of the harmonious concen- 
tration of the emotional and intellectual 
faculties, which constitutes Will. And Genius 
is nothing more than this ! Analyze the best 
masterpieces and, if they are only the product 
of a spontaneous instinct, you will observe 
this mistake or untruth which underlies con- 
temporary psychology. 

Superficial critics have thought, either through 
simplicity, or puerile malice, that idealist art 
pretended to lay down the inviolable formula 
and deliberate tyranny of an impersonal style. 
We must protest with all our strength against 
this way of misrepresenting our intentions, 
and denying again the existence of a definite 

158 The Creed and 

style. If idealism assumes the need of style, 
as being one of the means by which a work of 
art may attain perfection, it does not therefore 
mean to impose any particular style, which 
would be to absurdly fall into the trap set by 
the schools that the wings of the artist may 
be clipped. 

Style is the signature of the individual, the 
impress of the soul, the spirit. It always indicates 
the dominating quality of the artist perceptible 
beneath the plastic writing of form. It indicates 
what degree of psychic elevation the personality 
that manifests it has reached. But since style 
is the absolute reflection of a condition of soul 
or spirit, it is to the artist's advantage to seek 
the moral and intellectual perfection of his ego* 

If style is the same as the man, then the 
more a man rises, the more elevated will his 
style become ! Now, idealism invokes style, 
because it knows that it is the real presence of 
beauty in form. There can be no beauty 
without style — no style without beauty. 

Style is, moreover, the synthetising element 
which is the product of the science of aesthetics, 
and that science consists, as far as the artist 
is concerned, in considering the laws of concep- 
tion with regard to the laws of life. The science 
of art, possessed by all the great masters, does 
not destroy life, but illuminates it. Science has 

* The Ego is not understood here in the narrow egotistical sense that 
Maurice Barres wrongly gives to it. 

the Critics 159 

never even paralysed the creative idealism 
of the artist. Of this Leonardo de Vinci and 
Goethe are striking proofs. The study of the 
laws of the universe, far from checking the 
exercise of the aesthetic faculties, affords them 
a wider field in their search for the ideal. 
Behind the birth of worlds shines the secret 
light of the spiritual universe. All men of genius 
have known it. To great minds there is no chaos ; 
everything is linked together and perfect. 

Pheidias was a true philosopher familiar with 
deep metaphysical problems. He is in some 
ways the Plato of sculpture. The great artists 
of the Italian Renaissance assiduously studied 
the Platonic philosophy, and the splendour of 
Medicean palaces was enhanced by their learned 

How can the study of the laws of natural 
phenomena check aesthetic emotion ? Has the 
mathematical investigation of universal motion 
prevented De Vinci, " the man of all ideas and 
all emotions," as Arsene Houssaye terms him, 
from reproducing the movements of the human 
soul ? Science is the matrix of the Ideal ! 

Shakespeare, there is little doubt, was 
acquainted with magic science, and escaped 
being burnt as a sorcerer. The great tragedian 
possessed, indeed, the secrets of the Kabbala, 
the most wonderful of human knowledge. 

Taine on one occasion used a fine phrase : 
" The relationship which links art to science is 

i6o The Creed and 

an honour to both ; it is a glory for the latter 
to furnish beauty with its chief supports, and 
for the former to rest its noblest constructions 
upon truth." In fact the analogy of relationship 
exists in perfection between Art, Science, and 

By speaking in this way I do not mean to 
confuse them, which would be utter nonsense, 
but I dare to affirm, without fear of contra- 
diction, that artistic intelligence should not 
be the exclusive mechanical belonging of a 
single profession, and that artists who are only 
" painters " never rise above the common level 
of fools. Art is not a trade ; the artist is not 
an artisan. 

Has not even the insane Chardin,* the very 
type of a painter of subordinate details, been 
forced to admit : " When I paint a violin or 
a saucepan, I am still only a professional painter, 
but when I paint a face, then only am I an 

Into the difficult task of realising beauty 
there passes unceasingly the breath of the living 
spirit, which ever gains new strength whereso- 
ever it finds it. The theory of art for art's sake, 
beautiful in itself, necessary in itself, and 
defensible whenever unskilled popular writers 
attack it to the gain of speculations which are 
outside the province of aesthetics, can never be 

* Jean Baptiste Chardin (1701-1779), French genre painter ; painted 
scenes of a domestic character, allegorical subjects, and fruit. 

the Critics 161 

considered as absolute and may become a 
danger. Rigorously applied it lowers art to the 
mechanical technique of narrow conceptions. 

The artist must be universal. If he confines 
his creative power to a piece of cleverness, or 
a landscape, he weakens his personality, and 
is usually likely to degenerate. 

We will close with that hypocritical admission 
which some artists, and some inferior critics, 
make, which pretends that the facial expression 
of a monkey is as proper for artistic treatment 
as the mask of Olympian Jove ! Be it observed 
that idealist art is a synonym for Beauty ! 

In the sphere of conceptions Beauty is the 
immediate reflection of the divine world, and 
every work unilluminated by it will be dead 
and null. 

And what we affirm will last as long as our 
strength allows us to cry aloud to all the deaf 
and all the blind who hear without listening, 
and look without seeing ! 

There is nothing true but Beauty. To strive 
towards it is to project oneself into the very 
substance of its laws of light. To believe in 
it, to believe in its existence, its reality, is 
to come into closer communion with the wisdom 
of the world. 

Like Truth, Beauty causes the divine principle 
which slumbers in the depths of our imperfect 
nature to again become quick within us. To 
manifest it is the most eager, pacific, and earnest 

162 The Creed and the Critics 

delight of the soul. In the same way as prayer, 
it causes all the energies of the spirit and heart 
to vibrate. 

The demon of war may pass over the world 
with its trail of horror, and Beauty will not 
perish. For it can no more be destroyed than 
the stars, from which it borrows its resplendent 

And though the red rain of barbarism fall 
upon the abodes of mortality, there will ever 
blossom anew, in the sunrise of a loving dawn, 
the great dream of Order and new-born Beauty I 


Idealism in Art : Some Mistaken 


Ignorance of Materialism — Form the Sister of Number — Physical Ugliness 
expressive of Moral Ugliness — Ugliness advocated under the pretext 
of Emotion — Harmony the Highest Emotion — Separation of pure 
from impure by agency of the Spirit — Instinct due to the obscuring 
of Spirit — Ugliness the Animal Sign of Instinct — Distinction between 
Nature and Matter — Idealist Artists close students of Nature — The 
Artist must strive towards the Harmony of the Individual — Beauty 
is Unity in Variety — Idealism confused with Conventionalism — 
Idealism does not pretend to regulate Inspiration — It demands 
moral beauty — It rescues the Artistic Temperament from Materialism 
— It is not antagonistic to the Physical Universe — The Domain of 
Ugliness limited, that of Beauty infinite — -Idealism developes Style 
and Personality alike — " Style is the Soul " — Importance of Choice of 
Subject — Synthetic Nature of Idealism — Idealist Genius " super- 

IF BEAUTY were not the divine impress 
of the spirit upon matter, and if our 
senses were not the instruments by which 
the soul works this transformation, perceptible 
only to our thought, how should we explain 
in a rational way the astounding prestige of 
aesthetic magic — of Art ? Whence could a 
work of art derive its power of enchantment, 
if not from the ideal source of the divine principle 
which illumines the depths of the human being, 
and if the heart of Mystery did not actually 
beat in the bosom of Art ? 

Considered in its metaphysical sense Beauty 
is one of the manifestations of the Absolute 
Being. Emanating from the harmonious 
radiance of the divine plane, it traverses the 
intellectual plane in order to further irradiate 

164 Idealism in Art : 

the plane of nature, where it is quenched in 
the darkness of matter. Matter, in itself, has 
neither proper form or beauty, but it is the 
passive primordial element, in which the beauty 
of the spirit, traversing another element, the 
astral element, is reflected and made external. 

The great error of the realist or materialist 
theory is due to its absolute ignorance of what, 
in theosophical language, is called the generating 
ray of the Image of God in Man traversing the 
three principles of Being. 

I know that many strong-minded people, in 
their calm and self-satisfied contempt of the 
Other World, who meet lofty mysteries with 
idle negation, and who, nevertheless, at the 
decisive moment of death, brought face to face 
with the nothingness in which they have made 
themselves believe, tremble and despair, I 
know that for them this theosophical phrase 
only contains words void of sense and reality ? 

But the mystery — the evidence of its occult 
genuineness can be obtained — which creates 
and generates forms in Nature and Being, which 
organises them in accordance with the laws of 
order, proportion, and harmony — the Word — 
" the exemplary form of created things," as 
St. Thomas says, " determining and formulating 
Form, that Form which renders the world in- 
telligible " — has it been understood, has it even 
been suspected by such as gaze at and listen 
to Life through the mists of instinct alone ? 

Some Mistaken Notions 165 

Did they ever guess that Harmony is the Soul 
of the World, and that — all honour to aesthetic 
reasoning! — it exists — that Form is the sister 
of Number ? 

However, just as the root of the soul is to 
be found in the centre of Nature, so Form has 
its root in Number, since Number is the funda- 
mental law of all created things. 

Hugo, whose genius, when not dominated 
by the light and shade of his Romanticism, 
sometimes rose to metaphysical heights, saw 
this clearly : " The Infinite is an exactitude. 
The profound word Number is the basis of human 
thought ; it is, to our intelligence elemental ; it 
signifies harmony as well as mathematics. Number 
is revealed to Art by Rhythm, which is the heart- 
beat of the Infinite." 

Is it, as some superficial thinkers believe it 
to be, speculative, superannuated, and vain ? 
No. It is eternal ! 

All Form is the union of Essence with Sub- 
stance. All Form is Thought. The world of 
ideas becomes the world of forms. In the 
imposing symbolism of forms expressing realities 
in which the Word- Image is the secret inter- 
pretation of the language of Beauty, the work 
of creation appears like a permanent trans- 
mission of Rhythm to Form ; that is to say, 
the production of living forms in the realms 
of nature, or, better still, Rhythm in its true 
state inscribed in a material form. 

166 Idealism in Art : 

Form is explanatory. It is the great revealer 
of meanings. There is always an agreement 
between Form and Expression. Each thing, 
each being, has an exact form corresponding 
with what it is destined for, or according to its 
degree of evolution. The destiny of mankind 
is measured out — O wonder of the ignorant! — 
because it is governed by the laws of number. 
The physiognomist and astrologer, more positive 
than is supposed, know it, and, better still, 
prove it. 

No, nothing indubitably will transmit the 
rhythm of a statue by Pheidias into the body 
of a gorilla. No ignoble idea, no trivial senti- 
ment, could be expressed by a form that had 
good rhythm. Physical ugliness always repre- 
sents moral ugliness. 

Numbers,' Ideas, Forms, that is the analogical 
mystery of the whole of creation ! The Bible 
— why not quote it since it utters what is 
true ? — says : " God ordered all things by 
weight and measure." And the whole of nature, 
from the atom to the universe, is a demonstra- 
tion of this. One of the immortal masters of 
modern hermetics has proclaimed, moreover, 
that these beautiful words are also just, and that 
the wonders of the natural world are a symbolic 
system of mercies and glories. They are not 
chance definitions. 

The hazy-minded advocates of impressionism, 
vague-minded and vague-sighted, would profit 

Some Mistaken Notions 167 

by knowing that the generation of numbers is 
analogous to the association of ideas with the 
production of forms. Face to face with life 
they would have a worthier and surer artistic 
consciousness. But they prefer — it is easier, 
no doubt — to disparage this life which is con- 
tinued afar into the infinite and above into 
the world beyond further than they suspect; 
this life which vibrates, not with passing 
moods, but with the tremendous thrills of the 
Invisible ; this life about which they speak with 
such literary ostentation and of which they do 
not know the occult principles which generate 
it ; this life which they debase, I say, through 
I know not what vague or superficial instinct, 
which, sadly enough, procures for them their 
fleeting emotions. Their artistic creed has 
confined the influence of emotion to things 
which are obscure, formless, crude, and wanting 
in harmony. They thus propagate the mysticism 
of Ugliness under the pretext of Emotion. 

Now, there is no loftier emotion than that 
of Harmony. 

And Harmony, whether we like it or not, 
has been, is, and will ever be, Proportion and 
Equilibrium. Harmony is Perfection. When 
there is no Perfection, there cannot truly be 
Genius. Genius does not proceed from instinct, 
but from the Spirit. There is no inspiring 
force in instinct, the Spirit alone inspires. That 
is why all great works of art are willed. The 

168 Idealism in Art : 

Spirit makes use of the will. Contrary to instinct, 
the ideal function of the Spirit is to separate 
the pure from the impure, and this wonderful 
creative function, instead of attacking individual 
initiative, instead of leading to loss of per- 
sonality, gives to the artist a power more 
conscious of itself. 

Woe to the artist who has never found it 
necessary to meditate upon the mystery of 
his art ! Woe to him, for he will never see the 
glorious blossoming of the human ideal arising 
from the chaotic darkness of instinct, and will 
never know the splendours of the true life ! 

" He who has never wateied with his tears 
the bread that he eats, he who, with anguished 
heart, has not through long sleepless nights 
remained seated in sorrow on his bed, such 
a one will never know you, Heavenly Powers ! ' 
once exclaimed Goethe. 

All instinctive emotions are due to the 
clouding of the Spirit. 

All Ugliness is the animal sign of Instinct. 
Artists who make ugliness their favourite theme 
are dominated by instinct, and have lost the 
memory of the divine ray in the soul. They 
suffer, for the most part, from a particular 
kind of madness or a particular kind of 
perversity. Every time that one makes a con- 
cession towards, or tolerates, ugliness, that 
is to say, whatever lacks form, or is misshapen, 
a bond is entered into with the lower regions 

Some Mistaken Notions 169 

of the astral plane, wherein lurk the forms of 
lower beings and inorganic things, and where 
the phantasmagoria of elementals ever streams ! 

What makes one despair is the ignorance 
that the artist and critic display when con- 
fronted by the mental phenomenon of Art. 
How many know that the Mission of Art is 
a mission of Light ? 

"Art" protests the seer Zanoni, in the great 
Rosicrucian novel of Bulwer Lytton, " profane 
not thus that glorious word. What nature is to 
God, art should be to man ; a sublime, beneficent, 
fertile, and inspired creation. That wretch may 
be a painter, but an artist never ! And for you, 
who aspire to be a painter, has not that art, whose 
progress you would hasten, its magic power ? 
Ought you not, after a prolonged study of beauty 
in the past, to be able to grasp new and ideal 
forms of beauty in the future ? Do you not see 
that for the poet as for the painter great art seeks 
the true and abhors the real ? Ought one not to 
treat nature as a master, and not follow it like 
a slave ? Has not art, which is truly noble and 
great, the future and the past for its province ? 
What is a picture, then, but the concrete representa- 
tion of the invisible ? 

11 Are you discontented with the world ? This 
world was never made for genius, which must, 
to exist, create another for itself. By two outlets 
we escape from the petty passions and terrible 
calamities of earth — both lead us to heaven and 

i7° Idealism in Art : 

rescue us from hell — Art and Science. But art 
is more divine than science. Science makes 
discoveries, art creates . . . Astronomy which 
numbers the stars cannot add an atom to the 
universe ; a universe by a poet can be evolved 
from an atom. The chemist, with his substances, 
can cure the infirmities of the human body ; the 
painter, the sculptor, can give to the human form 
divine and eternal youth which sickness cannot 
destroy or the ages wither." 

In order to penetrate it, then, in the mighty 
interests of Art, Nature must appear as other 
than matter. Nature is a spirit, the spirit 
of the Universe, of which matter and the 
elements compose the body. Nature can feel, 
and is capable of suffering and sorrow, whilst 
matter cannot feel. We can, and we ought, in 
aesthetics as in philosophy, to distinguish Nature 
from the Real. 

I know that many will not accept this distinc- 
tion, which they will hold to be too subtle, 
but I must warn them that for the simple 
illusion of the senses it is not enough to deny 
this truth of cosmogony, that the universal 
plastic force, which shapes the visible world, 
is independent of the physical forces of matter, 
that lowest degree of the involution of the Spirit. 
The notion of the Real and the Spiritual, we 
may now clearly say, has been perverted, on 
the one side by a petrifying positivism, and 
on the other by an inconsistent spiritualism. 

Some Mistaken Notions 171 

Art has been governed by two contradictory 
influences at the same time. Hence the chaos 
at the present time : realism which deals with 
allegory, and impressionism which concerns 
itself with symbolism, in which Beauty is 
rejected or misconceived, because the har- 
monious relations of life and the ideal are 
unknown to it. 

With the idealist artist it is the eye that 
looks and the spirit that sees. If it is the eye, 
the most wonderful and translucent of organs, 
which establishes a connection between the 
external world and himself, it is the spirit 
which reveals light and form to his consciousness. 

Can it be said, finally, that idealism, as some 
opinionated people of weak understanding 
suggest, is mistaken in its views of life ? There 
are, indeed, no greater lovers of Nature than 
the idealist artists, since they see her under 
her twofold aspect, the most trivial spectacle 
of the physical world becoming for them a 
world of ideas. Material images, real forms, 
fill not only their eyes but their intelligence 
too. They not only see in Nature the matter 
of created things ; they perceive what is 
expressed in forms, namely, Intelligence. The 
elements of which the external world is com- 
posed are used by the idealist to recreate and 
rediscover an ideal world in his thought. The 
ideal he knows to be the logical vision of his 
thought towards harmony, Beauty. Certain 

172 Idealism in Art : 

aesthetic writers, philosophising upon art in 
a fanciful and impulsive manner, declare 
harmony to be a proposition and beauty an 
illusion. To make a distinction between harmony 
and beauty is a fundamental mistake. There 
is no beauty without harmony, no harmony 
without beauty. Instead of being an illusion, 
an abstraction, Beauty is the very realising of 
the Ideal. 

As Love is characterised by Charity, so 
Beauty is characterised by Spirit. Spirit, 
holding the balance between Will and Intelli- 
gence, is inseparable from Beauty. The genius 
of Art is expressed by the genius of Nature, 
which, by virtue of the principles of evolution 
and selection which governs it, ever tends 
towards Beauty. It is the genius of Nature 
which the artist ought to seek behind the 
confused appearance of the real. His soul 
should enter into communion with it, if he 
wishes to find the ideal. For the ideal is nearer 
to man than he thinks. Unfortunately he 
does not know how to seek it, and since he does 
not find it he denies its existence. We are 
thus led to conclude that the weaknesses of a 
work are due to weaknesses of thought, to 
something lacking in the soul, to an infirmity 
of a real or psychic nature. There exists, in 
fact, in the sensibility of one and the other 
flagrant discords. And it is usually in the 
name of these native or accidental, psychic 

Some Mistaken Notions 173 

or physiological, discords, that impressionist 
critics and artists reprobate the fundamental 
laws of aesthetics. This undoubtedly gives rise 
to that deplorable individualism in art which 
is at bottom merely the idle indulgence which 
mediocre and unskilful artists allow themselves. 

It is usually overlooked that the Ego of each 
individuality, as the esoteric physiognomy 
clearly indicates, has different aspects, either 
contradictory or complementary. Man, in 
fact, has, so to speak, four temperaments. There 
are these four moral psychological contra- 
dictions which it is his business to harmonise 
and balance one against the other. In every 
man there is manifested, in different degrees, 
a lymphatic, sanguine, nervous, and bilious 
temperament, and it is only when these four 
different sides of his individuality are brought 
into harmony that the man becomes perfect 
and evolved. Lack of balance is due to the 
abnormal preponderance of one of these aspects 
over the others. This is what makes a man's 
nature objective, subjective, passive, or active. 

The harmony of the individual is the psycholo- 
gical end towards which the artist should strive. 

There is no other individualism. 

All great artists know that Art, without 
belonging to analytical science, without being 
bound by conventional rules or barren precepts, 
contains a science whose laws are naturally 
fixed by the supreme logic of beauty. They 

174 Idealism in Art : 

know also that beauty, in order to be different 
according to the idiosyncrasy of the masters, 
is not the less governed by a mysterious unity, 
which centralises things similar, and which is 
its greatness and strength, realising a sovereign 
formula : Unity in Variety. 

I say again that to give up aesthetics 
to the caprices of individual sensibility, to 
deliver it over to the idle fancies of the in- 
competent, to all kinds of degenerate influences, 
constitutes the great mistake of contemporary 

Many have attempted to oppose the idealist 
tendency with arguments as vain as ridiculous. 
Some coolly wish to confuse it with the con- 
ventional school. People may be found who 
at the very name of idealism give a melancholy 
shrug of the shoulders and assume quaint airs 
of repulsion. They say — without believing it ! 
— that the name conceals a superannuated 
assembly of Buddhist priests laying down 
automatically with square and compass inviol- 
able rules and calmly drawing up a table of 
recipes for the use of wise artists — something 
like the chrestomathy of the perfect scholar ! 
They have argued against this wide and liberal 
tendency without understanding it. Conse- 
quently their argument is practically nothing 
more than a clumsy tissue of prejudices. 

We are forced to cry aloud, with all the 
strength of our lungs, that the idealist creed 

Some Mistaken Notions 175 

of art, in spite of its apparent dogmatism, is 
not a doctrine to induce narrowness ; on the 
contrary, it affords an impetus to the artist's 
personality, which remains unfettered, com- 
pletely unfettered, as far as it can be before the 
imposing logic of art, which contains a science 
of harmonies in which reason is mingled with 
emotion, and in which law amplifies sensation. 
It is wholly the development of personality 
in the direction of loftier conceptions, of per- 
sonality which perceives more clearly the 
great possibilities of art. It brings the artist 
back, not to preconceived forms, not to decaying 
academic ideas, but to the ideal and eternal 
principle of art. Just as science makes clear 
to us that general laws govern the relations 
between man and the elements, so idealist art, 
correctly defined, proves that there are laws 
governing the relations of nature to art. It is 
about these laws that personality with its ideas, 
sentiments, and sensations, performs its 

The sign of great art is Beauty. The sign 
of Beauty is Harmony. The sign of Harmony 
is Unity. 

In concentrating in his spirit and will his 
manifold various vital sensations, which should 
be, not confused or fanciful, but vigorous, 
clear, and distinct, the artist will be enabled 
to perceive aesthetic unity, without which there 
is no perfection possible. 

176 Idealism in Art : 

Unity is one of the great secrets of the 
beautiful. Unity is the very soul of style, 
and since style is personality in its most subtle 
expression, the more personality is evolved, 
morally and spiritually, the more enlightened 
will the artist become through the idea of unity. 

Does this mean that idealism consists in 
sacrificing everything to thought ? That would 
be absurd. It refuses nothing to the senses. 
It devotes them to higher ends by rendering 
them more subtle. Between sensation and 
temperament is placed notion. 

It in no way subordinates the subject to 
the painting, or the painting to the subject. 
Neither does it place style above idea. It does 
not pretend to regulate inspiration. It enriches 
and fortifies it, revealing its power by its union 
with the absolute. Idealism rejects none of 
the artistic faculties. It harmonises and welds 
them together. It aims at concentrating and 
complementing faculties tending in diverse 
directions. It desires the synthesis of the 
divine word, of the human word, of nature's 

Idealism lays down a hard and fast condi- 
tion : Moral Beauty. It rejects the black magic 
of art, which consists in spiritualising what 
is evil. It has an educational and general 
socialising influence, quite apart from any 
particular scheme of socialism. It knows 
nought, for instance, of aristocracies or 

Some Mistaken Notions 177 

democracies. It sees humanity in the immense 
vitality of its ideal growth. If the artist would 
become conscious of that, his personality must 
be purified and elevated. He must likewise 
know how to bring his life into harmony with 
natural and occult bond which links the sense 
to the soul, and soul to the spirit. 

The duty of modern idealism will be to rescue 
the artistic temperament from the fatal scourge 
of materialism, to save personality from the 
dangers inherent in the worship of uncompre- 
hended matter, to lead it away from the degrad- 
ing appeal of the ugly, in order to guide it, 
definitely, to the pure regions of an art which 
proclaims a spirituality about to be made 
manifest. It can do it, it must do it, without 
needing to have recourse to the imaginings of 
morbid dreams, to superficiality, and all the 
wretched unnatural creations of diseased minds 
and the baneful stupefying of the intellect, the 
disgrace and misery of art ! 

What is the artist, then, whether he be 
painter, sculptor, poet, or musician, if he be 
not the man who seeks to recover the traces 
of that invisible world of harmony and beauty, 
that spiritual world whence his struggling soul 
has preserved, throughout its period of gloom 
and intuition, a reflected radiance ; that is to 
say, the ideal and divine attraction. 

From this progress of art and the artist to 
transcendental heights must it then be assumed 


178 Idealism in Art : 

that idealism recoils in disdain from physical 
nature ? Certainly not. Idealism attracts life, 
all life, to itself, by spiritualising it, by pro- 
jecting its form and colour on the splendours 
of the spiritual world, of which the artist 
possesses the inner interpretation. Between the 
material passiveness of the object, and the 
lively suggestion of sensation, the idealist allows 
the harmonising energy of conception to move 
within him. The principle of his work does not 
consist, as it has been falsely thought, in a 
cold delineation of the abstract from which 
emotion is excluded. Idealist art must not then 
be libelled by having the mystico-burlesque 
nightmares of certain incompetent painters 
attributed to it, such as revive the rudimentary 
deformities of early times, and fall back 
miserably into an amorphous and incoherent 
past, in which protoplasm is confused with 

The obvious end of idealist art is the purifica- 
tion of art. 

The modern art movement, if it would 
voyage to the bright horizons of the ideal, 

must struggle against the continual encroach- 
ments of the ugly, no matter beneath what mark 
this is hidden : whether beneath the hypo- 
critical pretence of symbolism, characterisation, 
impressionism or realism, those inferior methods 
of expression by which those who dally with it 
are led astray. 

Some Mistaken Notions 179 

It has not been sufficiently observed that 
the domain of ugliness is confined to narrow 
limits, whilst that of pure beauty is infinite. 
The former holds art captive and forces it to 
breathe an impure atmosphere, and is the aethe- 
tics of darkness. Art then falls a prey to the 
lower influences of the astral world, which act 
upon the ready imagination of the artist un- 
conscious of the phenomena. The other renders 
active all the latent powers of the higher 
influences. Into the now unclouded imagination 
peers, if I may so express it, the third eye, 
which receives the reflection of a world become 
spiritualised . . . Must it be ever re- 
peated that beauty depends no more on sensi- 
bility than on a cunning ordering of accepted 

Idealism does not lay down a particular 
style. It developes the personal style side 
by side with the development of personality. 
It has been said : " Style is the Man " ; it 
should have been : " Style is the Soul." Style 
is the imprint of the soul coming in contact 
with Essence and Substance. Through the soul 
the spirit descends to matter ; matter ascends 
to the spirit through the soul. 

If I insist on the mediating influence of the 
soul, it is because it is a folly to wish to bring 
spirit and matter into immediate connection. 
That is why Idealism does not aim at the 
awful sublimity of an ideology without emotion 

180 Idealism in Art : 

and does not demand the extinction of emo- 
tional forces. 

What it proclaims and realises is the indivi- 
duality of the artist seeking synthetically a 
supreme accord with plastic harmony, moral 
harmony, and intellectual harmony ! 

Can beauty be reasonably detached from 
the idea expressed in the work, and is the choice 
of " subject," which is ever in relation to the 
personal worth of the artist, an additional 
and needless preoccupation, and one that may 
be neglected ? The theory of " no matter 
what " borders dangerously on depravity. It 
enfeebles the artist. It lessens the importance 
of his function. It falsifies his aim. It strangles 
his thought and brings the fertile and idealising 
principle within him to a standstill. The 
species of eclectico — sceptic pantheism which 
finds beauty everywhere — especially where it 
is not — on the ground that beauty in art is 
on an equal footing with and in no way different 
to beauty in nature, results in degrading art 
as much the opposite theory of originality, 
that intrusive originality under cover of which 
are produced such absurd and grotesque 

Let us pass on. 

We know : neither one or the other have 
hitherto conceived a harmonious notion of 
nature and art, nor have they known how to 
understand the mutual relationship between 

Some Mistaken Notions 181 

the real and the ideal image. That is precisely 
the synthetising power of idealism in art ; it 
possesses the sense of universal harmony and 
the sense of divine harmony. It knows — it 
has the desire too — that before there can be 
the desire of creating the wing of a seraph, 
there must be ability to draw the wing of a 
swallow. Nature and the ideal are not in oppo- 
sition. Truth and beauty are not irreconcilable. 
Logically the two are different, but they are 
linked by extraordinary points of resemblance. 
Those who remain the slaves of instinct will 
never guess the secret that these similarities 
reveal. Someone has well said: " Idealism soars 
aloft to a complete synthesis." Has it not reached 
those heights when art can be illumined by the 
magic and stupendous magnificence of Beauty ? 

It is here, indeed, that the artist learns how 
to realise the law of infinite relationship, the 
philosophy of line and of colour, their universal 
significance, the inner meaning of gesture, 
the power of ideas and of form, the motion of 
the body and of the soul, the connection between 
the visible and invisible, the communion of 
beings and things, and the sublime mathematics 
of eternal harmonies. 

Here finally the regenerated artist discovers 
a power of aesthetic expression proportioned to 
the sublimity of his aspirations and thoughts. 
Here finally the whole glorious life of art is 
unrolled in its majesty. 

182 Idealism in Art 

The time has arrived when genius will no 
longer be unconscious. The genius of the 
idealist will, we boldly prophesy, be super- 

And what will this super consciousness be ? 
An abstract sensibility ? An intellectual 
orthodoxy ? A psychic pedantry ? Will it 
involve closed eyes, systematically closed, to 
the bright blossoms of life, or mean that the 
heart and senses should become atrophied, 
voluntarily atrophied, when confronted with 
the enormous and ineffable palpitation of the 
world ? 

No, it will be nothing so insane. But it will 
be the knowledge that life is not limited to the 
senses and that it is extended into the splen- 
dours and forces of the Invisible, where it will 
be purified in the inevitable Ideal. 

And that will be — in the work ! 


A.E. on landscape painting, note, 21 

Academic School present Body 
without Soul, 72 

" Adoration of the Magi, The" (De 
Vinci), 7 

jEschylus, 5, 45, 145 

..Esthetics, Peladan on Salvation 
of, 44 

need of a clearly defined view, 


Alexandrian School, 90 

Ancient Wisdom, The, see Universal 

Apelles, 116 

Art, completes Nature, xxiii. ; 
influence of Nature study on, 3 ; 
In Belgium, note, 10 ; aspires to 
condition of Music, 49 ; a species 
of occult chemistry, 70 ; a 
Divine Force, 73 ; a vital organ 
of Humanity, 73 ; consecrated 
by Metaphysics, 78 ; its course 
parallel to that of Science, 81 ; 
threatened by Positivism, 80 ; 
its mission to cause what is 
comprehensible to be perceived, 
80 ; to purify mankind, 85 ; 
indissolubly bound to Religion, 
94 ; neglected by the State, 95 ; 
patronage of in France, 97 ; in 
Bavaria, 98 ; patronage of at 
the Renaissance, 100, 101 ; nei- 
ther aristocratic or democratic, 
103 ; its influence on Society, 
121-144 ; the revealer of Har- 
mony to Mankind, 122 ; un- 
known to animals, 123 ; super- 
ficial views of statesmen as to, 
124 ; evolution of correspondent 
to Social progress, 124 ; the 
working of Spirit upon Matter, 
130 ; must overcome Matter, 
not imitate it, 134 ; must 
illumine and not reflect Society, 
136 ; its mission to represent 
Ideas, 141 ; creates the Artist, 
147 ; modern degradation of, 
153 ; when corrupt significant of 
a corrupt morality, 154 ; its 
mission a mission of light, 169 

Art of the Future, Peladan on, 30 ; 
dependent on future of Science, 
Religion and Philosophy, 75 ; 
to be based on the triple formula? 
of Idealism, 83 

Art, work of, must represent an 
Idea, 8 ; has Body, Soul, Spirit, 

25 ; imperfect without Beauty, 
27 ; at once an emotion and an 
instinct, 157 

" Art for Art's Sake," fallacy of 
theory, 160 

Artist, Initiation necessary to, 
xxvii., xxxiv. ; lack of great 
artists at present time, xxxv. ; 
high calling of, 7 ; loss of in- 
dividuality by, 8 ; the revealer 
of Beauty to mankind, 72 ; un- 
importance of his environment, 
77 ; should show that his work 
is not the result of chance, 81 ; 
distortion of Nature by modern 
artists, 84 ; degradation of by 
the State, 99 ; mysticism of the 
Primitive, 107 ; social responsi- 
bility of, 126 ; inferior artists 
afraid of great art, 132 ; the 
representative of Public Opinion, 
139 ; a discoverer not creator, 
146 ; created by Art, 147 ; great 
artists and great thinkers akin, 
149 ; must strive towards the 
Harmony of the Individual, 173 

Athenagoras, 90 

Athos, Mt., the monks of, 119 

Bach, 5, 66 

Bandinelli, note, 46 

Banville, Theodore de, 17 

Barres, Maurice, 158 

Baudelaire, on the Artist, 7, 19 ; 
on the limitations of Nature, 

Bavaria, art, patronage in by Lud- 
wig II., 98 

Bayreuth, Wagner's theatre at, 98 

" Beautiful, The, is the Ugly " : 
fallacy of the dictum, 52 

Beauty : Spiritual, Plastic, Techni- 
cal, xxviii. ; absence of in 
modern Art, 8 ; threefold char- 
acter of 14, 27 ; absolute prin- 
ciple of, 29 ; the synonym of 
Truth and Harmony, 30 ; the 
reflection of the Essence in the 
Substance, 33 ; Beauty in Art 
superior to Beauty in Nature, 
68 ; the harmony of Forms, 70 ; 
discountenanced by the Church, 
93 ; resulting from the Sym- 
metry of Nature, 109 ; percep- 
tion of inseparable from Men- 
tality, 124 ; its influence on 
Social problems, 128 ; perceived 



through the Imagination rather 
than through the Senses, 130 ; 
a necessary condition of man- 
kind, 132 ; not incompatible with 
utility, 138 ; A Society to protest 
against degradation of Public 
Beauty, 144 ; ignorance of art 
critics as to, 151 ; necessary to 
all subjects for artistic treat- 
ment, 161 ; indestructibility of, 
162 ; is Unity in Variety, 174 ; 
its domain infinite, 179 

Beers, Van, note, 155 

Beethoven, 31, 66 ; his deafness 
and ninth symphony, 68 

Belgian Art, new era in, 136, 137 ; 
note, 10 

Besant, Annie, quoted, 121 

Beuron School, The, a revival of 
religious Art, 109 ; foundation 
of, note, 109 ; study of Greek and 
Christian tradition by, 110 ; a 
reaction against ecclesiastical 
ugliness, 113 ; influence of By- 
zantine and Gothic Art on, 116 

Bhagavad-Gita, 91 

Botticelli, 58 

Bouguereau, A. W., note, 46 

Braeckeleer, De, note, 37 

Brahminism in harmony with 
Christianity, 91 

Broerman, Eugene, 144 

Brussels, Art Societies at, note, 10 

Buddha, the Christ of the East, 92 

Bulwer Lytton, his " Zanoni " 
quoted, 169 

Burne-Jones, xiv., xxv., 8, 46 

Byzantine Art, 58 ; influence on 
the Beuron School, 116 

Canova, note, 46 

" Cercle des Vingt," 10, 48 

Chardin, note, 160 

Chavannes, Puvis de, xxv. ; chief 
works of, note, 17 ; his criticism 
of Impressionism, 18 ; on Art and 
Nature, 19, 46, 114 

Chenavard, xxxvi. ; note, 46, 50 

Chesterton, G. K., on Watts, 46 

Chevreul, his theory anticipated by 
Delacroix, note, 39 

Choice of subject, importance of, 
Delacroix, 181 

Christ, the Buddha of the West, 92 

Christian Art, the product of re- 
ligious materialism, 87 ; to be 
replaced by Universal Idealist 
Art, 94 ; revival of by Beuron 
School, 104-120 ; not to be de- 
pendent on imitative principles, 
105; should be hieratic and ideal, 

106, 108 ; Order indispensable 
to, 109 ; Ugliness incompatible 
with, 112 ; opposed to the nude, 

Christian mystics, 89, 90 

Christianity, in harmony with 
Brahmanism, 91 

Church, The, hostile to Initiation, 
87 ; early Fathers of, 89, 90 ; 
Key to Secret Doctrine with- 
held by, 93 ; Beauty discoun- 
tenanced by, 93 

Cimabue, 58, 107, 119 

Colour, not dependent on the genius 
of the artist, 39 ; theory of 
Delacroix as to, 39 

Colour-sense, possessed by animals, 
38 ; influence of digestion on, 38 

Comprehension, the reflex of Crea- 
tion, 67 

Conception, the Ideal and Spiritual 
stage, 23 

Consciousness of Genius, 5 

Consciousness, influence of spiritual 
vibration on, 11 

Coppee, 19 

Corot, 21 

Courbet, 10 

Couture, 17 

Criticism, modern, ignorant of Law 
of Beauty, 151 ; exalts crafts- 
man above the artist, 152 

Dante, an initiate, 88 

D'Aurevilly, Barbey, destitution of, 
his works, note, 103 

David, J. L., his love of the an- 
tique, note, 50 

Delacroix, his theories, the fore- 
runner of " pointillisme," note, 39 

" Democratising of Art, The," 9 

Design, the foundation of art, 48 ; 
compared with Music, 49 

Diotime, 87 

" Divina Commedia, The," 8, 88, 149 

Eckhardt, 90 

Edison, 39 

Emotion, the middle stage of a 

work of Art, 23 
Ensor, J., vulgarity of, note, 8, 155 

" Fair is Foul," xxiii. 

Fierens-Gevaert, lectures on 19th 
century Art, 188 

Flandrin Hippolyte, his works, note, 

" Flemish Painting," an anachron- 
ism, 136 

Form, Beauty of, 15 ; expressive 
of creative power of the world, 



32 ; its connection with the 
Idea, 49 ; the product of sound 
waves, 66 ; the union of Essence 
with Substance, 165 ; the sister 
of Number, 165 
Fra Angelico, 58, 66, 107, 110, 119 
France, Art patronage in, 97 
France, Anatole, 100 

Gallait, note, 46 

Gauguin, note, 155 

Gautier, Theophile, 17 ; opinion 
of Gallait, 46 

Genius, its productions not spon- 
taneous, 55 ; Michelet on, 133 ; 
analogy between men of, 145 

Germany, Beuron School in, 109 

" Gioconda," 7 

Giorgos Marcos, 119 

Giotto, 58, 107, 119 

Gliick, 22 

Gnosticism akin to Universal Wis- 
dom, 88 ; the fundamental spirit 
of Christianity, 90 

Goethe, 42 ; on Form and Design, 
49 ; on the Greeks, 54 ; quoted, 

Gothic Art, 58 

Greek Idealism, 53, 57 

" Guide to Sacred Art, The;' 119 

Hals, Franz, note, 152 

" Harmonies of Existence, The," 149 

Harmony, the essence of the social 
influence of Art, 121 ; the secret 
of the Universe and the State, 
121 ; the highest Emotion, 167 

Herkomer, xxv. 

Hermes, 89 

Holman Hunt, xxv. 

Homer, an initiate, 145 

Houssaye, Arsene, 159 

Hugo, Victor, on Number, 165 

Huxlev, Prof., 123 

Hypatia, 88 

Idea, Beauty of, 14 ; connection 
with Form, 49 

Ideas of past ages reflected in their 
Monuments, 142, 143 

Ideal, The Science of the, 61 ; 
superior to all individual ideals, 

Idealism, Threefold nature of, 
xxviii. ; present in every true 
w 1. 1 k of Art, 10 ; means the spiri- 
tualising of Art, 11 ; a synonym 
for Art, 11 ; reaction against 
Realism and Impressionism, 13 ; 
Threefold principle of, 14 ; 
Artist unfettered by, 16 ; de- 
mands study of Nature, 17, 171 ; 

not exclusive , 19 ; is the har- 
mony of the Natural, the Human, 
and the Divine, 36 ; not to be 
confused with " dreaming," 65 ; 
influence on modern thought, 78 ; 
the continuation of Naturism, 
156 ; does not insist on a definite 
style, 158 ; confused with Con- 
ventionalism, 174 ; does not 
regulate Inspiration, 176 ; de- 
mands " moral beauty," 176 ; 
rescues the artist from material- 
ism, 178 ; not antagonistic to the 
physical Universe, 178 ; its 
synthetic nature, 181; its " super- 
consciousness," 182 

" Ilissus, The," 51 

Image, An, is Sensation spiritual- 
ised, 24 ; the invention of, the 
dawn of social intelligence, 123 

" Imitation of Jesus Christ, The" 

Impressionism, corresponds to 
scepticism, xxii. ; a pursuit of 
the Ugly, xxii. ; results in the 
negation of Form, 4 ; a neurotic 
malady, 9 ; the Poetry of the 
Moment : its fallacy, 18 ; lacking 
in real aesthetic emotion, 83 

Initiation, necessary for the artist, 
xxvii., xxxiv. ; of Greek artists, 

" International Institute of Public 
Art, The," 144 

Jesus Christ, 89, 92 
Jordaens, note, 152 
Julius, II. ; his admiration of 
Michael Angelo, 101 

Kings, modern, lacking in " aesthe- 
tic sense," 96 ; inglorious char- 
acter of, 99, 100 

Krishna, 89 

Lacuria, 149 

Landscape-painting, xxx. ; only 

translates impressions, 17, 21 ; 

A.E. on, note, 21 ; an element of 

decoration, 21 ; a background, 

22 ; an illegitimate form of 

Art, 23 
" L'Assommoir," 8 
Lebrun, note, 46, 50 
" L'Ecole de Platon," xvi. 
Lenz, R. P. Desire, founder of the 

Beuron School, 109 
Leys, Baron Henry, influence on 

Belgian Art, 10 
" L' Homme- Dieu" xvi. 
" Libre Esthetique," 48 




Life confused with Substance, 64 
Line, the essence of Form, 48 ; the 

immutable theology of Form, 112 
Ludwig II. of Bavaria, patronage 

of Wagner, 98 
Lysippus, 116 

" Macbeth " quoted, xxiii. 

Magi, The, their initiation of the 

artist, 53 
" Mammon," 15 
Manu, 89 
Martinism, 88 

Materialism, erroneous view of 
Art, xxix. ; future overthrow of, 
61 ; its struggle with Spiritual- 
ism, 75 
Mauclair, Camille, 138 
Meissonier, note, 155 
Memphis, 98 
Michael Angelo, xxx., 13, 45, 58, 

66, 77 
Michelet, on Genius, 133 
Millais, Sir J. E., xxv. ; note, 46 
" Minotaur, The," 15 
Mission of Art, The, a mission of 

Light, 169 
Monet, Claude, founder of Im- 
pressionist School, note, 155 
Moreau, Gustave, xxv., 46 ; his 

aims and work, note, 46 
Moses, 89 

Music, its aid in the aesthetic com- 
prehension of Form, 49 ; the 
basis of social harmony, 121 
Musical vibration, correspondent to 

harmony of Form, 66 
" Mystery of Evolution, The," by 

Jean Delville, 122 
Mysticism, Christian, 89, 90 

Napoleon I., his patronage of 
Art, 97 

Napoleon III., patronge of Art, 98 

" National " Art, xxx., _xxxvii. ; 
doomed in the future, 75, 76 

Naturalism, atrophies the creative 
powers of the artist, xxi. ; corre- 
sponds to materialistic panthe- 
ism, xxii. ; debasing influence on 
Art, 5 

Nature, an evolution towards 
Beauty, xxiii. ; principle of selec- 
tion in, 19 ; Puvis de Chavannes 
and Baudelaire on Incomplete- 
ness of, 19 ; a medley of enchant- 
ment and terror, 65 ; to be dis- 
tinguished from the Real, 170 

Naturism, an evolution from 
Naturalism towards Idealism, 

Navez, note, 46 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 5 

Nike, statue of, from Samothrace, 

" Noces corinthiennes," 100 

Nude, The, its moral significance, 
56 ; expresses the true sense of 
Nature, 57 ; the Alpha and 
Omega of /Esthetics, 58 ; its 
study can regenerate Art, 58 ; 
neglected by the Primitives, 58 ; 
studied by artists of Renais- 
sance, 58 ; its synthetic quality, 
59 ; it evokes Humanity, 59 ; 
made fleshly by Realism, 63 ; 
studv of, opposed by Christian 

Occultism of Rembrandt, 152 ; 

of Shakespeare, 159 
Orcagna, 58, 107 
" Orfeo," scenic poetry of, 22 
" Organon, The," 149 
Origen, 90 
Orpheus, 89 
the lyre of, 55 

Palais de Justice, Brussels, xvii. 

Paracelsus, 90 

" Parsifal" 77, 149 

Parthenon, The, 149 

Pater, W., 49 

Peladan, Josephin, character of 
his Idealism, note, xxxvii. ; on 
the Art of the Future, 30 ; on 
the Salvation of ^Esthetics, 45 ; 
on Line, 112 

Pericles, 53, 54, 121 

Pheidias, 31, 45, 54, 66, 77, 110, 
116, 121, 159, 166 

Plato, 53, 55, 87, 89, 111, 121, 149 

" Poets of the Moment," the Im- 
pressionists, 18 

Polycleitos, 116 

Primitive artists, eponyms of Chris- 
tian Art, 113 

" Promethus Vinctus," 5 

Proudhon, his sophism on the Ugly, 
64 ; his famous paradox, note, 
64, 102 

Pythagoras, 42, 89 

Rama, 89 

Raphael, xxx., 5, 45, 152 

Real, The, to be distinguished from 
the Natural, 170 

Realism, its ignorance of the 
Divinity in Man, 164 

Realist-Impressionist School pre- 
sent Things without Idea, 72 



" Reformation of Human Know- 
ledge, The," 42 

Religion, future reconciliation with 
Science, 79 

Rembrandt, 77 ; the Kabbaliste of 
painting, note, 152 

Renaissance passion for Art, 100—2 

Rhvthm of Form, 31 

Rodin, 134 

Romanticism, an advance towards 
Idealism, xix. ; Idealism with- 
out Idea, xix. ; lacking in a clear 
synthesis, xx. ; overthrown by 
Naturalism and Positivism, xxi. 

Rosicrucian romance of " Zanoni," 

Rossetti, xvi. 

Rubens, 136 

Ruskin, John, his failure to per- 
ceive the essential in Art, xxv., 
xxxvii. ; on Symmetry, 109 ; on 
the Ugly, 125 

Ruysbroeck, John, father of Flemish 
mysticism, note, 90 

Sacred Art, see Christian Art 

Sais, 90 

" Samothrace, La," note, 51 

Scheffer, 17 

Schiller on Beauty, 132 

" School of Athens, The," 5 

Science, future reconciliation with 
Religion, 79 ; the matrix of the 
Ideal, 159 

Seailles, Gabriel, quoted, 24 

Sensation, and Sentiment steps 
towards the Idea, xxix. ; rela- 
tion to Consciousness, 23 ; the 
first stage in work of Art, 23 ; 
only a means towards a work of 
art,' 68 

Seurat, Impressionist method of, 
note, 43, 155 

" Seven Lamps of Architecture, 
The" 109 

Shakespeare, occultism of, xxii., 

Signac, Impressionist theory of, 43 

Sistine Chapel, 149 

Sizeranne, Robert de la, xxi v. 

Social Art, no necessitv for, 71 

" Socialising of Art, The," 9 

Societe Libre," 10, 48 

Society, influence of Art on, 80 

Socrates initiated by Diotime, 88 

Sophocles, 45, 54 

Spiritualising of Science, 62 

St. Angela of Foligno, 90 

" St. Anne " (De Vinci), 51, 64 

St. Augustine, affirms Christianity 
to have existed before Christ, 90 ; 

his lost treatise on the Beautiful, 

note, 91 
St. Clement of Alexandria, 89 
St. Denys the Areopagite, 90 ; on 

Image- worship, 119 
St. Francis of Assisi, 90 
St. Irenaeus, 89 
St. Luc, School of, 94 
St. Maur, Chapel of, 110 
St. Pantaenus, note, 90 
St. Thomas Aquinas, 90 ; quoted, 

St. Vincent de Paul, Church of, 

Frieze at, 117 
St. Yves d'Alveydre, on Art and 

the Artist, note, 147 ; quoted, 154 
State, The, neglect of Art by, 95 
Strasburg Cathedral, astrological 

clock at, 5 
Style, an idealising quality, 51 ; 

no definite style demanded by 

Idealism, 158 ; the signature of 

the individual, 158 
" Style is the Soul," 179 
Symbolic painting of the Future, 

Symmetry, a natural law, 109 

Taine, on the Ugly and the 
Beautiful, 52 ; on the relation- 
ship of Art and Science, 159 

Technique, Beauty of, 15 

" Temperament," theories as to, 81 

Temperament of Man fourfold, 173 

Thebes, 90 

Theophilus, the monk, his manual 
on Art, 116 

Theory, necessity for, 39 ; idle 
objections to, 40 ; able to purify 
Art, 43 

Theosophical Society, The, 88 

Tolstoi', concerned only with the 
morality of Art, xxvi., xxxvii. ; 
conception of Art, 73 

Tradition, the Living and the Dead, 
45 ; Artists of, 45, 46 ; subordina- 
tion of personality to, 45 ; in- 
fluence of, 145 ; the atavism of, 
145 ; personality of artist un- 
fettered by, 146 

Trithemius, Abbot of Spanheim, 
note, 90 

Turner, J. M. W., A.E. on, note, 21 
his limitations, 22 

Type, Importance of, 119 

Ugliness, symbolic, examples of, 
note, 15 ; Academic and Realist, 
34 ; non-existence of according 
to Proudhon, 64 ; Ruskin on, 



125 ; physical ugliness expres- 
sive of moral ugliness, 166 ; 
propagated under the pretext of 
Emotion, 167 ; the animal sign 
of Instinct, 168 ; its domain 
limited, 179 

Universal, The, Plato on, 41 

Universal Brotherhood, influence 
on future Art. 85 

Universal Wisdom, The, able to 
achieve the unity of Religion, 
88 ; its transmission to modern 
times, 88 ; akin to Gnosticism, 
89 ; the fundamental spirit of 
Christianity, 90 

Utility, lacking in uninspired Art, 

Vandyck, 152 

Venus of Milo, 39, 55 

Verlaine, opinion of Ludwig II., 98 

Villiers de LTsle Adam, Count, his 

writings and influence, note, 103 ; 

quoted, 146 

Vinci, Leonardo de, xxx., 5 ; 

dictum of, 31 ; his " Treatise on 

Painting," 41, 45, 58, 66, 77, 

135, 152, 159 
" Virgin of St. Mam, The," 110, 


Wagner, Richard, note, 5, 31, 42, 
46, 66, 77 ; aided by Ludwig II., 
98, 145, 149 

Watts, G. F., xxv., 15 ; belief in 
Priesthood of Art, 46 

Whistler, xiv., 21 

Wiertz, A., xxxvi. ; ugliness ex- 
hibited in his works, 37 ; chief 
works and method, note, 37 

Wilde, Oscar, quoted, 6 

Willette, his " Pierrettes," note, 13 

Wronski, Hoene de, his mathemati- 
cal formula?, note, 42 

" Zanoni," quotation from, 169 

Zeuxis, 116 

Zola, on Naturalism, xxi., 8, 156 

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